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EDITORIAL: Get government out of the way and ‘let them work’

Diversification has long been a buzzword in Nevada when it comes to economic development. Perhaps, then, state lawmakers should take a page from Arizona when it comes to luring talent to the Silver State.

On Monday, Arizona lawmakers introduced a bill to ensure that the state honors occupational licenses from different jurisdictions. “So-called ‘universal-licensing recognition’ would make it easier for licensed workers to move to Arizona,” Reason.com reports, “and would do away with time-consuming and expensive requirements for license holders who want to move across state lines.”

The measure would require professionals to show they were in good standing with the licensing authorities in their previous state. But once that was accomplished, they would be free to practice their profession or trade in their new home.

The proliferation of occupational licensing restrictions — which are often protectionist measures masquerading as public safety requirements — drives up costs for consumers, discourages entrepreneurship and diminishes opportunity. In the 1950s, just one in 20 jobs required a permission slip from the government. That number is now almost one out of three.

Reducing unnecessary employment barriers should be a priority for any elected official who is interested in promoting growth, job creation and a strong economy. Arizona’s proposal is a big step forward and offers a road map for other states on how to attract talented professionals.

As Reason notes, studies show that occupational licensing has hindered worker mobility in a number of professions, including teaching. The authors of a 2017 University of Minnesota study found that a lack of reciprocity “could constitute a significant cost to migration across state lines for those in licensed occupations, and these costs could prevent individuals from moving.” Fast-growing states such as Nevada lose out the most.

“For qualified professionals who move to our state looking for work,” said the bill’s sponsor, Arizona state Rep. Warren Peterson, a Republican, “let’s get government out of the way and let them get to work.”

In Nevada, the Clark County School District has long complained about a chronic teacher shortage. State officials have also long lamented a dearth of qualified medical practitioners and doctors. Reforming a model that discourages these types of professionals from practicing their craft if they choose to relocate to Nevada might help ease such problems.

The Arizona proposal is well worth implementing in Carson City. The issue of occupational licensing reform should have bipartisan support and presents a rare opportunity for Nevada’s legislative Republicans and Democrats to reach across the aisle in the spirit of cooperation.

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