Inside Augusta

Will Maine make it easier for skilled professionals to relocate here?

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On Tuesday, lawmakers on Maine’s Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement, and Business Committee held a virtual public hearing on LD 612, An Act To Recognize Occupational Licenses and Certifications from Other States To Attract New Residents and Businesses to Maine, sponsored by Representative John Andrews of West Paris.

The bill would allow skilled professionals licensed in another state to gain licensure to work in Maine, provided they are in good standing with their state’s licensing board. Ultimately, it would help thousands of workers and entrepreneurs make the move to Maine and build a better life here.

Licensure is far and away the most restrictive of all regulatory tools. If the goal is to ensure consumer health and safety, the Institute for Justice’s “Inverted Pyramid” diagram highlights the many ways consumers can be protected from potentially harmful business practices without imposing a new licensing regime.

Central to this issue are the thousands of workers and entrepreneurs who face these regulatory hurdles simply to earn a living in their field. Maine Policy Institute’s testimony in support of the measure highlighted the story of Kim Fichthorn, a dental hygienist and transplant from Texas who lived through the burdensome process of obtaining licensure in Maine. LD 612 is meant for people like her.

The bill provides plenty of safeguards for the public, including ensuring applicants are in good standing with their state of origin and have passed that state’s licensing exam. This should be all that is necessary to empower people to put down roots and build a life here in Maine. It would have saved individuals like Fichthorn hundreds of dollars and countless hours of headaches.

Though some state regulators and legislators signaled they are against the bill as its currently written, Anne Head, Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, offered to work with Rep. Andrews to assuage the concerns of those in her office.

There is no reason to maintain outdated, anti-competitive, anti-entrepreneurial regulations that only serve to reduce access to affordable services for Maine people.

Also supporting the bill were MaineHealth and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine. Watch Maine Policy Institute’s testimony on LD 612 below:

Read more about occupational licensing reform in the Maine Legislative Guidebook and in Maine Policy’s 2018 report, Let Us Work.

About Nick Murray

Nick Murray, of Cornish, currently serves as Policy Analyst with Maine Policy Institute, writing, researching, and bringing Mainers together over the issues facing the state. Previously, he served as Outreach Coordinator, planning events to spread the word about Maine Policy's work to new audiences around Maine.

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