BOISE — As Idaho grapples with a shortage of health care and skilled trade workers, legislation introduced this week aims to make entry into certain professional fields easier.
Rule changes presented by the state’s Board of Medicine on Thursday morning remove some barriers for medical license applicants from other states and countries. Meanwhile, bills introduced in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee later in the day would provide alternative routes to licensing for electrical contractors and journeymen and reduce regulations for collection agency licensees.
The proposed changes follow then-Lt. Gov Brad Little’s 2017 Licensing Freedom Act, an executive order directing a review of Idaho’s occupational licensing requirements. Since then, agencies and lawmakers have turned their attention to analyzing and streamlining licensing regulations.
Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls, chairman of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee, told the Times-News on Wednesday he would like to see Idaho reduce barriers to job entry for trade occupations this legislative session.
“My goal is to deregulate as much as possible on licensure,” Patrick said. “We want safety, but we don’t want to be too restrictive.”
Little’s executive order required all state agencies to submit a report to the governor’s office, with the purpose of determining whether licensure requirements were necessary and how they could be improved. A state report released in October found that Idaho has issued 204,000 occupational licenses in at least 440 different categories.
“It’s been nearly four decades since government has taken a look at many of these licenses, and with advancements in technology it’s time for us to ask: Is it needed?” Little said in a statement when the executive order was first issued. “Can we modernize? How can the state provide better customer service? Can government get out of the way and still protect the common good?”
Legislation brought by the Division of Building Safety on Thursday would alter electrical apprentice registration requirements that “have been difficult … to enforce and for many in the trade to achieve, thus creating barriers to entering and remaining in the trade,” according to the bills’ statements of purpose.
One piece of legislation would create an electrical installer category of licensure for apprentices who want to stay in the trade without becoming journeymen. The other bill would change the length of apprentice registrations from five years to one year, make requirements similar for in-state and out-of-state applicants, and let the administrator revive expired apprentice and limited electrical installer trainee registrations.
Another bill, also introduced Thursday in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee, would make the licensing process for collection agents, debt counselors, credit counselors and credit repair entities more similar to other entities licensed by the Department of Finance. The changes stem from a review of the department’s licensing process under Little’s executive order, Anthony Polidori, bureau chief of the Department of Finance’s Consumer Finance Bureau, told the committee.
“The purpose of [the legislation] is to incorporate several measures the department believes will reduce regulatory burdens on licensees, while also resulting in the reduction of administrative costs to the department,” Polidori said.
Rule changes presented by the Board of Medicine were also inspired by the Licensing Freedom Act, executive director Anne Lawler told the House Health and Welfare Committee. Changes include getting rid of a requirement that medical license applicants report their past health conditions.
The state will also no longer ask applicants who attended medical school in other countries to show that their school had been graduating students for at least 15 years.