This past February, House Bill 343 was introduced into House Committee in Frankfort. The purpose of the bill is to create a new section of KRS 335B, a chapter which specifically outlines Commonwealth rules and regulations regarding state-issued licensing. In creating this new section of the chapter, new regulations would be implemented, making it easier for those moving into Kentucky from out-of-state to receive occupational licenses and government certifications. Currently, someone from outside Kentucky must meet the same licensing requirements as someone applying for their license in the Commonwealth. However, the new bill would allow for universal recognition of occupational licenses and government certifications for those moving in.
Take for example someone practicing in the field of cosmetology. Kentucky law states that – among other requirements – in order to receive an occupational license to practice as a certified nail technician, one must complete a written and practical exam, as well as accumulate 450 hours of clinical experience. Currently, someone moving from, say Ohio would need to hold a valid license to practice as a nail technician in Ohio and show the 450 hours of clinical experience to reach Kentucky certification. However, this new bill would make it easier for this nail tech to achieve Kentucky certification by simply requiring that they have held a valid license in their initial state for at least one year.
The bill also includes legislation aimed at those coming from a state without licensing requirements. In the event that the person’s prior jurisdiction did not require licensing, the bill would recognize work experience of three or more years as meeting the requirements for Kentucky certification.
What this means for workers with occupational licenses
There is a lot of potential upside for workers in this bill. By removing some of the overlapping requirements of various states, the bill could help people who are providing services in multiple jurisdictions. A hairdresser on the Indiana-side of the Ohio River could practice both in Indiana and Kentucky with little issue. This in turn addresses some concerns the Commonwealth faces in filling workplace shortages. By making it easier to receive certification, vacant positions can be filled faster and people moving into Kentucky can more quickly set down roots. A major hurdle for someone looking to relocate to Kentucky could very well be the clinical practice hours requirement. Nail technicians require 450 hours, Estheticians and Apprentice Instructors need 750 hours, and certified Cosmetologists need a whopping 1,500 hours in order to reach licensing. Supporters of the bill argue that it also does not make sense to force requirements on someone proven adept at a role simply because their prior jurisdiction did not require the same standards. After all, is there really harm if someone does not have the clinical hours to license as a cosmetologist in Kentucky, but has worked as one for the last five years in Tennessee without issue?
What objections to the bill have been voiced?
The most notable objection to the bill has been how broad in scope it reaches. The current language of the bill does not make a distinction between the various types of license-requiring professions; the bill treats Speech and Language Pathologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Auctioneers the same but in all reality should require varying degrees of scrutiny when evaluating an applicant’s request for certification. The concern of “broadness” stems from a desire to insure those applying for certification are not under-qualified. Perhaps there are some industries for which this bill does not help; some professions pose greater risk of injury to the worker and to the customer and in these professions, it makes sense that the jurisdiction assures those workers are reasonably qualified.
So, what’s next for this bill?
HB 343 did not make it out of committee before the end of the legislative session; meaning we will not see this bill go into effect for at least another year. There will be discussion regarding this bill and the potential aid it brings to the Commonwealth in the coming legislative session. Until then, it’s important for professionals in license-required jurisdictions to insure they remain in good standing and seek legal counsel as soon as possible if the validity of their certification is in doubt.