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It doesn’t matter if you are a Cyclone or Hawkeye, Iowans agree it is awful to lose to Nebraska in any sport.

If attracting businesses and workers were a game, Nebraska has jumped out to a big lead. However, Iowa legislators have the chance to score a lot of points this year by using Nebraska’s playbook.

Iowa’s tax code must improve, but so, too, must our occupational licensing laws that hold back workers. Our neighbors across the Missouri River are showing us they refuse to stand pat in this competition.

Two years ago, Nebraska passed legislation that reviewed all existing licensing requirements, creating a path to either repeal licenses that weren’t necessary to protect the health and safety of the public, or otherwise modify licensing laws that aren’t competitive. During this year’s legislative session, Nebraska legislators and policy groups, including our good friends at the Platte Institute, continue to forge ahead breaking down barriers to opportunity.

Most notably at the Nebraska Capitol, a bill to provide universal recognition is under consideration. This would recognize personal qualifications (i.e. education, experience) of those who are already licensed in good standing in another state. Not too long ago, removing barriers for Nebraskans through major reforms to job licensing laws was mostly just an idea, but it has become a reality in the Cornhusker state.

All this talk about Nebraska isn’t meant to imply that Iowa’s lawmakers aren’t taking action, too. In fact, that’s far from the truth. Occupational licensing reform bills that have been proposed by Governor Reynolds and individual legislators have continued to make their way through both the Iowa House and Senate, including passing through some key committee work during this “funnel week”.

ITR has had a lot to say about the issue, and we are pleased to see the progress made so far. We are hopeful progress continues all the way to Governor Reynolds signing good legislation into law. After all, occupational licensing reform has found bi-partisan support in other states. Arizona’s Republican Governor, as well as Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor, both signed universal recognition bills into law in their states last year.

Iowa is tantalizingly close to becoming a state that will welcome workers from all over the country. There is more work to do and there will certainly be challenges, but each step in this direction opens another door of opportunity.