House File 2627 was signed into law on Thursday by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who said the bill embodies the idea that opportunity lives in Iowa.
In Iowa, Reynolds said, a quarter of workers need a license from the state. That’s the second-highest percentage in the nation. That impacts both Iowa’s workforce as well as the companies that employ them.
“A rigorous professional licensing system to protect the health and safety of our people and our community is absolutely appropriate, but when that system becomes onerous and burdensome to those seeking opportunities, and it creates unnecessary barriers to people entering the workforce, changes need to be made,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds told a few stories, including one about Mathieu Lemay. Lemay is an electrician who lives in Kanawha. He moved to Iowa with 32 years of experience as a master electrician. At that point, he was licensed in 27 states. But he was declined twice in Iowa.
“It caused me to ask some questions,” Lemay said.
He reached out to Sen. Dennis Guth, who helped Lemay get in touch with the proper people to raise the right questions.
“The encouraging things I’ve seen in this bill are going to do a tremendous amount for tradespeople throughout the state and inviting credentialed professionals from other states to help meet the demand that is growing here in the state of Iowa,” Lemay said.
Jim Ellis of Price Electric said the company has found constraints on finding qualified, skilled workers who move into the state. The bill, he said, will make improvements to those constraints.
The legislation eliminates the code section governing travel agencies and the hospital licensing board, which didn’t actually license hospitals. It also provides universal license recognition. Iowa will waive license fees for low-income Iowans. Additionally, it puts in place universal standards for considering criminal convictions in licensure.
Finally, if someone comes to Iowa from a state that doesn’t license a profession, you can use work experience to get a license as long as conditions are met – including having worked three of the last four years. Iowa is the first state in the country to put that policy in place.
“With the Governor signing House File 2627 into law, Iowa has taken a huge step forward in reducing barriers to finding meaningful work,” said Tyler Raygor, deputy state director of Americans For Prosperity. “This historic legislation will improve the lives of thousands of Iowans by providing licensure opportunities for folks with past convictions, recognizing licenses from other states, and, as the Governor pointed out, this bill makes us the first state in the country to recognize work experience for professionals coming from states without licensure. This piece is critical because Iowa ranks as one of the worse states when it comes to the number of professions we license.”
Reynolds said she is “hopeful” that the bill is not the last step. She would like to see Iowa improve on its ranking in terms of the percentage of workforce that requires some kind of license.
She recognized Sen. Waylon Brown and Rep. Shannon Lundgren, who floor managed the bill through their respective chamber. She also credited Guth for his work.
“On behalf of our activists across Iowa, we want to thank Sen. Brown and Rep. Lundgren for guiding this bill through the legislature and Gov. Reynolds for making these types of reforms a priority.”