Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission
In December 2016, Governor Mary Fallin issued Executive Order 2016-39 to create the Occupational Licensing Task Force. The Governor ordered the Task Force to conduct a comprehensive review of occupational licensing in Oklahoma and provide recommendations to the Governor for the potential removal of license requirements that do not promote the health and/or safety of Oklahomans and are unreasonable barriers to worker's entry into the workforce. Upon recommendations of the Task Force Executive Order 2018-02 directed the Oklahoma Department of Labor as the central coordinating entity for reporting information regarding occupational licenses in the State of Oklahoma. The Occupational Licensing Task Force Report can be found here. Effective July 1, 2018, SB1475 created the Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission (OLAC) and was charged with conducting a comprehensive review of Oklahoma's occupational and professional licenses (collectively, “occupational licenses”) not less than once every four (4) years and to provide recommendations to the Oklahoma Legislature. A written report of the Commission's legislative recommendations will also be provided to the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Commission's Report and Recommendations strives to balance free market principles with protecting public safety, and reducing unreasonable barriers to entry into the workforce.
What is Occupational Licensing? Occupational licensing is the process by which a state legislature grants an agency or board the power to enforce and maintain licensing requirements for persons providing regulated, professional or occupational services. A licensure board is typically made up of individuals from the profession who will accept and review applications or oversee the administration of certain requirements (such as exams). These powers and the organization of such licensure bodies are created by legislation.
Benefits of Occupational Licensing
Occupational licensing ensures integrity of the trade and protects the public. Workers may seek to become licensed as a move toward greater professionalism. It also builds community and cohesiveness within an occupation to standardize work functions. Consumers benefit as they are able to research information through the licensing entity before seeking service. Licensing creates incentives for workers to invest in increased training and skill development for high quality services.
History of Licensing Review in Oklahoma
Oklahoma began addressing the issue of occupational licensing by convening an Occupational Licensing Task Force in 2017 (Final Report can be found here) per Executive Order 2016-39 by Governor Fallin. What the Task Force found was a state of complete disarray in licensing review and administration. The Task Force recommended further analysis of licenses by an independent entity utilizing an Occupational Regulation Blueprint to review the necessity, utility, and impact of existing licensing regulations. As a result of the Task Force the Oklahoma Legislature enacted SB1475, creating an Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission (effective July 1, 2018). This Commission is comprised of a broad representation of needed stakeholders including: legislators, industry members, information technology representatives, license holders, and others. It is tasked with conducting a review of all Oklahoma occupational licenses and making recommendations to the Legislature.
Work of the Commission
The Commission utilizes the Occupational Regulation Blueprint to conduct an analysis of all the occupational licenses in Oklahoma. Each year the Commission reviews a portion of the occupational licenses issued in Oklahoma to make recommendations to the legislature and administrative agencies for potential reform or modification. The review will be prioritized by critical occupations to Oklahoma. These recommendations are made following a public meeting and vast input from stakeholders. The recommendations for reform or modification are made to the Oklahoma Legislature in December of each year, prior to the start of the legislative session. The Commission also compiles data to determine the number of differing occupational licenses issued by Oklahoma’s agencies, boards, and commissions, in order to continually update the online database created by the Task Force licensing.ok.gov
License Review Process
The Occupational Regulation Blueprint (“Blueprint”) – in conjunction with informational meetings between the Commission and licensing entities, industry participants, and the public – forms the basis for the Commission to analyze licensing requirements and make recommendations to the Oklahoma Legislature. The Blueprint creates an objective, practical tool to determine whether an occupational license is needed or whether a lower form of regulation would be equally effective. It contains questions to determine whether there is a government interest in regulating an occupation (such as public safety, public health, a fiduciary duty, or preservation of a fundamental right). It also questions whether a lesser form of regulation such as insurance, bonding, or registration may be more appropriate. It also considers the composition of Oklahoma licensing boards. The Commission will utilize the Blueprint to conduct an analysis of all the occupational licenses in Oklahoma. Newly created licenses will be reviewed by the Commission within ninety (90) days of enactment. Licenses are to be reviewed every four (4) years. In year one, (i.e., 2019 Report and Recommendations), the Commission examined some of Oklahoma's critical occupations with high economic potential indicators and licenses that appeared to be outliers. In the second year, the 2020 Report and recommendations will focused on many of Oklahoma's remaining critical occupation licenses (as identified by Oklahoma Works), and the Occupational Licensing Policy Learning Consortium's targeted occupations list. The following years will examine the balance of Oklahoma's occupational licenses. Commission members can add licenses to the proposed schedule at any time with a majority vote.