Iowa moves a step closer to accepting other states’ professional licenses

The Iowa State Capitol (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa would recognize professional licenses and certifications from other states, potentially making it easier for Iowa employers to hire workers in a tight labor market, under a bill approved by a legislative subcommittee Tuesday. 

Senate File 2114, introduced by Sen. Waylon Brown, R-Osage, drew mostly favorable comments in a subcommittee meeting Tuesday before Brown announced the measure would be sent to the full Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee. 

State Sen. Waylon Brown is a Republican from Osage. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Legislature)

“We do not always have conversations about burdens that stand in the way of individuals’ ability to enter the workforce,” Brown said. “Currently, Iowa is the second most regulated state in regard to occupational licensing.” That has cost the state jobs and revenue, he added. 

J.D. Davis, vice president for public policy at the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, said the bill would address a key concern of Iowa manufacturers and other businesses: finding help. 

“We want to make sure we preserve standards, but we want these workers working here, so we appreciate your efforts and hope to help,” Davis told committee members.

Some lobbyists in attendance suggested the state consider accepting only those licenses for which the holder took a test, if Iowa requires one. 

A person seeking an Iowa license would have to live in Iowa to have the out-of-state credentials honored, Brown said. Workers would have to show that they had been licensed or certified in some other way in at least one other state for at least a year to qualify to work in Iowa without getting an Iowa license or certification. 

The bill also is supported by the Master Builders of Iowa, the American Massage Therapy Association, Home Builders Association of Iowa, Iowa Psychiatric Society, Iowa Rural Water Association, Iowa Bankers Association. Iowa State Bar Association, and Americans for Prosperity. No lobbyist had registered against the bill by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

The licensure issue has been a significant issue in Iowa business circles, with ABI, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and the Iowa Business Council among those noting problems with Iowa not recognizing other states’ professional credentials. 

Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, making hiring a difficult proposition for many businesses. The rate is even lower in Greater Des Moines, and Ames at times has had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate.