The NC Senate passed SB-8, “Easing Occupational Licensing on Military Families” on Wednesday, March 15. Sponsored by Sen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Sen. Harry Brown (R-Jones) and others, the bill is a step towards providing help for military families in North Carolina working in an occupation that may require a license.
The bill allows a military-trained applicant or the spouse of a military member to work in an occupation that requires a license in North Carolina without having to put off working until they get that license. However, they must meet certain criteria. They must have performed the occupation in another jurisdiction that has requirements “substantially equivalent” to North Carolina’s while they are satisfying the qualification requirements related to training, competency, and professional standing in North Carolina.
In other words, they must have worked in the job or specialty somewhere else that has requirements like North Carolina’s in getting that required license. The ability to work is through a “temporary practice permit” that is good for one year.
The bill waives the initial application fee for a license for the military member and/or their spouse if one is typically required in the field or specialty in which they are going to work in North Carolina, and for which a temporary practice permit has been issued.
After a year, the licensing board for the occupation that has issued the temporary practice permit may charge its customary renewal fee. Other fees for services performed by third-parties such as those for background checks may also be charged.
Currently a discretionary option for occupational licensing boards in helping the military would become a requirement for them if the bill also passes in the House and becomes law.
On the Wednesday, March 15 “What Matters in North Carolina” podcast, Anna Beavon Gravely, spokesperson for Generation Opportunity NC, said that SB-8 is a foot in the door to having more conversations about significant occupational reform. Gravely said, “There’s definitely much more that could be done. Last session we had lots of conversations about significant occupational licensing reform, and it just fell short of the goal line.”
Gravely added that a group that partners with Generation Opportunity NC, Concerned Veterans for America, is also supporting the legislation (SB-8) to help military members and their family members.
— ConcernedVetsNC (@ConcernedVetsNC) March 7, 2017
The barriers to entering business put in place by occupational licensing requirements affect citizens young and old in North Carolina. Gravely said, “We have a 12.9 percent unemployment rate among millennials, and North Carolina is the 29th state with the most burdensome regulations for licensing.”
Gravely repeated that there is a lot to be done to reform occupational licensing but that this bill is a good start.
SB-8 passed unanimously in the Senate and has been sent to the House for consideration.
Click here to listen to the entire interview with Anna Beavon Gravely.