Julie Grace Occupational Licensure Streamlining Testimony

On May 26, 2021, Badger Institute Policy Analyst Julie Grace testified in favor of 2021 SB 232 and SB 233 before the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry.

Read a transcript of Julie's testimony below.

Read more about 2021 SB 232 here.

Read more about 2021 SB 233 here.

Senator Felzkowski and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for holding this hearing today and for allowing me to testify in support of Senate Bills 232 and 233, which would streamline the state’s licensing process. As most of you know, the Badger Institute has over the years conducted research and told stories of many people affected by the state’s burdensome licensing process and requirements. Too many times, we’ve heard that Wisconsinites who simply want to work are either turned away or forced to wait – losing significant income while enduring stress, discouragement and confusion – before they can obtain a license to enter or return to their desired field.

Licensing impacts nearly a fifth of Wisconsin’s workforce, more than one million aspiring workers who are required to seek government permission slips in the form of licenses, certifications, registrations or permits. These bills would make it easier for qualified professionals to get licensed and get to work sooner in Wisconsin.

Specifically, SB 233 would give the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) the authority to recommend granting or denying an application for licensure to the respective licensing board. If DSPS recommends approving the application, the board has 10 days to act, or the application is automatically approved.

In our report, Absence and Violation, we found that most of Wisconsin’s licensing boards very rarely meet – sometimes only quarterly or less. When the boards do meet, much of their activity often takes place in private or closed session. Speeding up and opening up this process by requiring a licensing board to act quickly after a recommendation from DSPS would alleviate some of the pressures placed on licensing boards. More importantly, it would eliminate weeks, even months, of waiting for people who just want to get to work.

SB 232 would allow DSPS to grant a temporary license to certain applicants so that they can practice in their desired field and earn a living while the application is reviewed. These applicants would follow the same laws and procedures as their peers working in the same field. If their application is ultimately approved by DSPS, the temporary status is removed, and they’re required to simply renew their license based on the credential’s requirements. If DSPS determines they’re not eligible to practice in their field, the temporary license immediately expires.

I encourage you to read an article I wrote last year about Meggan Thompson, a licensed clinical social worker who moved here with her family from California. I believe Maggan would have benefited from this proposed legislation. She moved to Wisconsin with her family in pursuit of a better quality of life and lower cost of living. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California (USC), practiced in the field and teaches online courses at USC.

But she had to wait more than a year to get her license in Wisconsin. No one should have to forgo a year of income or the ability to practice their profession because of hurdles imposed by the state or rules established by those already practicing in the field. We should be making it easier, not harder, for people like Meggan to live and work in our state.

Thank you for holding this hearing today and for considering these important bills. I’m happy to take any questions.