May 2, 2023
No state is growing faster than Florida, which experienced the nation’s highest rate of population growth last year. This has been aided by a relatively low cost of state government, the avoidance of a state income tax and political leaders committed to protecting freedom.
With the arrival of new residents comes an increased demand for services, particularly services that require access to licensed professionals. Fortunately, with universal occupational license recognition, a reform now pending in the state Legislature, lawmakers can make it easier for people moving to the state to work, while increasing access to services that Floridians need, especially in health care.
Universal license recognition, or universal licensure, removes unnecessary government barriers to work. It allows a professional with a license in good standing in another state to work in Florida. This saves them having to spend time and money jumping through hoops to get a new, duplicative license.
More than 20 states have enacted universal recognition, from Arizona to Pennsylvania, making it a proven policy across the country. The universal licensure reform effort in Florida is led by Sen. Jay Collins, sponsor of SB 1364, and Rep. Traci Koster, sponsor of HB 1333. This legislation builds on reforms passed by legislators and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in recent years.
The need for this legislation is urgent. Universal licensure would address workforce shortages in critical areas, such as health care, education and technical trades. Like many other states, Florida faces challenges in attracting and retaining skilled professionals in these fields. By recognizing out-of-state licenses, Florida would make it easier for professionals to relocate and contribute their expertise, helping to fill these crucial gaps and improve the overall quality of services available to residents.
Additionally, universal licensure promotes economic growth by increasing the ease of professional mobility. By reducing barriers to entry, Florida would attract a more diverse and skilled workforce, ultimately fostering innovation and competition. This influx of talent would stimulate job growth, investment and the overall economic prosperity of the state.
This is especially needed in the health care sector due to rising demand for doctors and other health professionals, such as dentists and dental hygienists. Increasing the supply of oral health providers is especially important. That’s because access to dental care isn’t just about filling cavities and preventing bad breath; it’s also about promoting health in general.
“Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health,” notes the Mayo Clinic website, which adds that “without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.”
Missouri Rep. Derek Grier, who spearheaded the enactment of universal license recognition in his state, said it allows new residents who work in licensed fields to “plug in right away.” Grier notes that enactment of universal licensure ensures new residents won’t “be hindered by the government so long as there are no health, safety and wellness concerns.”
Adoption of universal licensure will help Florida address the challenges faced by a rapidly growing state, creating a more dynamic, thriving workforce that addresses critical workforce shortages and promotes economic growth. By reducing barriers to entry and recognizing out-of-state licenses, Florida can strengthen its economy, support military families and improve the quality of life for its residents. That is why the Goldwater Institute, the James Madison Institute, Americans for Tax Reform and other nonpartisan organizations encourage Florida lawmakers to send SB 1364 to Gov. DeSantis.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer organization founded in 1985 at the request of President Ronald Reagan.