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Sen. Waylon Brown is hopeful that some changes to Iowa’s licensing requirements will help address the labor shortage that plagues Iowa employers.

Senate File 2114 would make it easier for someone licensed in another state to become licensed in Iowa if they relocate.

“It’s no secret the state of Iowa has a workforce shortage,” Brown said. “We have conversations with our employers all the time. We do not always have conversations about the burdens that stand in the way of an individual’s availability to enter the workforce. Currently, Iowa is the second-most regulated state in regards to occupational licensing.”

Democrat Sen. Nate Boulton said he wants to encourage workforce solutions, but wants to also make sure the state is protecting the workforce as well.

Republican Sen. Dennis Guth said it’s important to maintain health and safety standards, but making it simpler for someone who lives in Minnesota to get a job in Iowa is a good goal.

Victoria Sinclair of Iowans for Tax Relief spoke in support of the bill.

“We think it’s a good answer to helping address Iowa’s workforce shortage,” she said. “We figure people practicing in another state in a profession for at least a year and, in some worst cases, much longer, without any complaints, it seems reasonable that they should be able to work here also. We just thank you for bringing this bill forward.”

Matt Everson with NFIB said the legislation is “another piece of the puzzle” to solving workforce issues.

Dustin Miller of the Iowa Society of CPAs said they have some concerns in terms of previous criminal convictions as well as the complexity of state tax laws, which differ from state to state.

Tyler Raygor with Americans For Prosperity noted a couple tweaks could make a “good bill even better.” He said the bill would be better without a residency requirement.

Sandy Conlin of Associated Builders & Contractors of Iowa said the group believes in order for universal licensing recognition to be appropriate, the person should have to have taken a test in the state they’re coming from.

Eric Goranson asked whether the bill is providing recognition or reciprocity. Brown said it was a mistake missed in the drafting of the bill, but his intention is not to allow people who live and stay in Illinois to become licensed in Iowa.

“I’m not concerned about what other states are doing in regards to Iowa licenses,” he said. “My concern is addressing our workforce shortage. My concern is not whether or not the bordering states are addressing their workforce shortage.”

Boulton said there was good conversation during the subcommittee.

“I think we need to amend this to make sure it’s doing what I hope you had set out to do, which is to allow people who become residents here an easier path to their careers,” he said.

Boulton did add, however, that it’s important to figure out what the requirements should be and to consider the testing issue.

Guth cautioned that if Nebraska doesn’t have testing requirements, everyone on the western half of Iowa will go to Nebraska to get certified.

“But I do see the need for this,” he said. “I have a friend who is a master electrician licensed in 30 states. He moved here from Texas and it took him over a year to get certified so that he could actually practice in Iowa. And that’s ridiculous.”

“Obviously we’ll be working on amendments,” he said. “Let’s continue conversations outside of subcommittee and come up with language we can all agree on — something bipartisan, good for all.”

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall