Mississippi Recognizes Out-of-State Occupational Licenses
2021 could be the Year of Universal Recognition. In March, Mississippi officially joined the movement when Governor Tate Reeves signed the Universal Recognition of Occupational Licenses Act (HB 1263) into law. The new law, which was sponsored by ALEC state chair and February Legislator of the Month Rep. Becky Currie (listen to her ALEC Across the States podcast here), is a major victory for the state and Mississippians. It sends the message that the Magnolia State is open to skilled and knowledgeable workers looking to make the state their home.
The bill has several key inclusions that make it particularly effective:
- It determines whether a license is eligible for recognition using “scope of practice” language, rather than “substantially equivalent” language. “Scope of practice” language focuses on the duties and responsibilities of a job, rather than the more subjective interpretation of training and education caused by “substantially equivalent” language.
- It allows workers with three years of work experience in a job with a similar scope of practice to receive a Mississippi occupational license, provided that the worker gained the experience in a state does not license that occupation. This prevents skilled workers from being penalized for moving from a state with less regulation.
- It creates a 120-day deadline for a board to either accept or reject a worker’s application for license recognition. This keeps workers from experiencing costly professional limbo as they wait to hear from the board.
These principles can all be found in the ALEC universal recognition model policy, The Model Interstate-Mobility And Universal-Recognition Occupational Licensing Act.
As noted earlier this year in a blog post, universal recognition legislation is gaining momentum across the states. Since the post, it has become even more widespread. Wyoming’s Governor Gordon signed a universal recognition bill into Wyoming law, and states as different as Rhode Island and Oklahoma have introduced universal recognition bills in their state legislatures. Over 13 states now have such bills under consideration, in addition to the 11 that have already passed some form of universal recognition.
Other states can send the same message as Mississippi to experienced and licensed workers through universal recognition reform. Workers who have already put in the effort and time to prove their expertise will be more attracted to states that recognize their effort and history of success. COVID is making many people rethink living in urban centers and tax-heavy states; now is the perfect time for competitive states to hang up the “welcome” sign to experienced professionals through licensing reform.