A person does not magically lose their skills because they’ve moved from Illinois to Utah. Why should somebody have to suffer the burden of thousands of dollars or months of recertification in a skill they already have?
Poor occupational licensing regulations are the reason. Utah’s occupational licensing laws have become a barrier those interested in moving to the state must climb. These regulations are so strict that they even deter what would be productive members of the state’s workforce and economy from making the move.
Moving is stressful already without such regulations to worry about. Utah’s doors should be open to anyone who wants to move here, not closed to qualified professionals. After all, why would anyone want to restrict people from experiencing beautiful Utah?
Occupational licensing compacts could act as a solution to this problem. Occupational licensure compacts provide consistent rules for licensed practitioners to work in other states. These compacts create reciprocal professional licensing practices between states while ensuring the quality and safety of services and safeguarding state sovereignty. To date, over 40 states and territories have adopted occupational licensure compacts.
The reciprocity of licensing practices makes it significantly easier for those who want to come to Utah to make the final decision to move. With these compacts, if you are a licensed physical therapist in Texas and Texas has engaged in a compact with Utah, you could move to Utah and immediately begin work in your profession. No longer would you have to sit on the sidelines for months while attempting to meet licensing requirements Utah enforces.
Not only do these compacts help Utah attract new workers who can boost the state’s economy, but they also promote small government.
State governments often prefer to direct themselves collaboratively when addressing problems that span boundaries, and compacts have proved to be an effective mechanism for states to jointly problem-solve. This problem-solving between states helps them avoid intervention by the often regulation-happy federal government.
Utah currently engages in six occupational licensing compacts. These compacts include the physical therapy compact, the nurse licensure compact, the medical licensure compact, the emergency medical compact, the psychology inter-jurisdictional compact, and the occupational therapy licensure compact.
The latter compact was passed during this year’s legislative session through the assistance of Libertas. Under the occupational therapy compact, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants who are licensed in good standing in a compact member state may practice in other member states via a “compact privilege,” which is equivalent to a license.
When reviewing the listed compacts, it is clear that they are beneficial to the state. These agreements help facilitate an influx of new employees in sectors that desperately need qualified workers and provide necessary services for millions of Utahns. Just imagine if there was a shortage of nurses in the state and you couldn’t adequately receive medical care. Luckily, these compacts help prevent this nightmare scenario from becoming a reality.
While Utah has started to embrace these compacts, their use should continue to be expanded within different occupations. Utah needs workers and growth to sustain its economy. These compacts provide both!