Phillip Suderman · March 6, 2024


CONTACT: Phillip Suderman, [email protected], (850) 376-4110

Gov. Pillen Signs Bill Expanding Universal Licensing Recognition and Fresh Start Initiatives

ARLINGTON, Va.—On March 5, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed legislation that will recognize many out of state licenses. The bill, LB 16, also reforms state licensing laws for people with criminal records by ensuring that only criminal records that directly relate to the license can disqualify people from licensure. The Institute for Justice (IJ) praised the move as a step towards providing further economic opportunities for people who what to live and work in Nebraska.

“This is an important step forward toward reducing unnecessary occupational licensing in the state,” said IJ Director of Legislation and Senior Legislative Counsel Meagan Forbes. “By recognizing out-of-state licenses and giving people with criminal records a fair shot at getting a license, these reforms will make it easier for people to work in Nebraska and expand economic opportunity across the state.”  

In Nebraska, nearly one out of every five workers must now get an occupational license before they can do their jobs, preventing otherwise qualified people from finding well-paying jobs. These restrictions don’t just harm the individuals left out of the market, but also drive up prices and reduce availability of licensed services for consumers.

To qualify for recognition, an applicant must have been licensed or held a military occupational specialty for at least a year in another state. The license or military occupational specialty itself must have a similar scope of practice to Nebraska’s and be in good standing in their home state.

In addition, under LB 16, applicants with criminal records for most licenses can only be disqualified if convicted of a crime that “directly and specifically relates to the duties and responsibilities of the occupation.” The bill also blocks boards from considering arrests that do not end in a conviction, juvenile criminal records, and convictions that happened more than three years ago, though the time limit would not apply to many violent felonies.

“Research shows a job is one of the best ways to prevent recidivism. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for returning citizens to find work,” Forbes added. “This bill will make it much easier for Nebraskans searching for a fresh start.”

IJ is a national leader in working with state and local governments to eliminate burdensome red tape and help qualified individuals find well-paying jobs that help them provide for themselves, their families, and their communities. To read out more about IJ’s work in occupational licensing, please visit our site.

#  #  #

To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may contact Phillip Suderman, IJ’s Communications Project Manager, at [email protected] or (850) 376-4110.

Institute for Justice | | 901 N. Glebe Road | Suite 900 | Arlington, VA 22203 | Tel (703) 682-9320