Bills on the Hill: Momentum Builds for Occupational Licensure Changes in Pa.

Last Updated: Jun 5, 2019

Harrisburg-Capitol-FountainSeveral bipartisan bills that address occupational licensure requirements have been introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature. One bill that would allow for more license portability has been signed into law. 

Gov. Wolf has signaled support for license reform measures. Workforce development was a focus of his 2019-2020 budget proposal.

Here’s a closer look at several of the licensure bills.

License Portability

This bill, which has now been signed into law, allows a licensing board or commission to issue a license, certificate, registration or permit to allow practice in the Commonwealth if, upon application, the applicant meets certain conditions:

  • Holds a license, certificate, registration or permit from another state, territory or country and the licensing board or commission determines that licensure requirements for the state, territory, or country are equivalent to or exceed Pa. requirements.
  • Demonstrates competency through methods determined by the licensing board or commission, including completing continuing education or having experience in the profession for at least two of the five years preceding the date of the application.
  • Has not completed any act that constitutes grounds for refusal, suspension, or revocation of a license, certificate, registration, or permit unless a licensing board or commission determines that act should not be an impediment to the granting of a license, certificate, registration, or permit.
  • Is in good standing and has not been disciplined by the jurisdiction that issued the applicant’s current license, registration, certificate, or permit unless the licensing board or commission determines that discipline should not be an impediment to the granting of a license, certificate, registration, or permit.
  • Pays any fees established by the licensing board or commission.

Bill Status: Gov. Wolf signed the bill (HB 1172) into law on July 1, 2019. The law, now known as Act 41 of 2019, will take effect in 60 days from the governor's signature. The boards and commissions will then have 18 months to promulgate regulations.

Consideration of Criminal Records in Occupational Licensure

Companion bills have been introduced (SB 637 and HB 1477) that aim to create a common set of rules for occupational licensure boards, commissions, and departments when considering whether to deny, suspend, or revoke a license on the basis of a criminal conviction.

The bills would amend Pa.’s Criminal History Record Information Act to require that boards, commissions, and departments only withhold a license for convictions which are directly related to the practice of the occupation, and that the boards consider the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has passed since conviction, evidence of the applicant’s fitness to practice the occupation, and other relevant factors prior to withholding a license.

Additionally, the bills would require that boards, commissions, and departments publish regulations about how the new rules would apply in the context of a profession. Potential applicants would also be able to petition a board, commission, or department for a preliminary decision on whether an individual’s criminal history might disqualify that individual from obtaining a license, certificate, registration, or permit.

Bill Status: SB 637 was introduced on May 13 and has been referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. HB 1477 was introduced on May 22, 2019 and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The Fighting Chance Act

Legislation called the Fighting Chance Act (HB 995) addresses both occupational licensure reform and criminal justice reform.

The bill seeks to create a regulatory reduction pilot program that would reduce regulatory requirements, compliance costs, and regulatory burden across state agencies. One of the primary goals of the Fighting Chance Act is to create a more streamlined licensure process for individuals – including those who are returning to the workforce following incarceration.

Bill Status: The bill was introduced on April 5, 2019 and has been referred to the House State Government Committee.


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