DES MOINES — Legislation recognizing out-of-state licenses for several occupations and limiting the reasons for disqualifying a person from receiving a professional license for a criminal conviction was approved Tuesday by the House State Government Committee.
The change is one of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ priorities. One-quarter of Iowa’s workforce requires some kind of professional license — second highest in the nation, Reynolds said — but there’s no uniform standard for licensure.
The bill was backed by a broad coalition of lobbying interests — schools, builders, Department of Corrections, Economic Development Authority, chambers of commerce and ACLU-Iowa. Many interest groups were “undecided,” and the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO was the only group registered in opposition.
There were some concerns with the bill, said Rep. Karin Derry, D-Johnston, who served on the HSB 647 subcommittee. Legislators wanted to make sure that licensees coming in from out-of-state would meet the same standards as people licensed in Iowa.
Drew Klein of Americans For Prosperity, which has pushed for occupational licensing changes, called it a “great day” because lawmakers cooperated “to move legislation that will tangibly improve the lives of thousands of Iowans one step closer to passage.”
Outdated and unnecessary occupational licensing laws are a barrier for Iowans seeking work and trying to maximize their potential, he said.
Iowa employers repeatedly have told legislators that they could grow their businesses if they could find workers with the right skills.
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“It’s good to see lawmakers taking steps to remove barriers and enable more individuals to work,” Klein said.
Among the barriers addressed in the bill are criminal convictions. Those would not automatically disqualify a person from being licensed. State licensing boards could disqualify applicants based on a criminal conviction, but boards must provide a list of which convictions could disqualify applicants. In cases of an applicant who otherwise would be disqualified, HSB 647 would require the issuing board to make an exception if it determines the applicant is rehabilitated and an appropriate candidate for licensure.
Committee members liked another provision in the bill to waive the application fee for an applicant if their household income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The bill now is eligible for consideration by the full House.
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