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5.6.21 –  (The Center Square)

Oklahoma is joining a growing list of states to offer universal occupational licensing recognition to out-of-state professionals who relocate there.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed House Bill 2873, the Universal Licensing Recognition Act, into law.

While Oklahoma will accept licenses from other states, “certain examination requirements and fees would still apply to the applicant,” according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

Jerrod Shouse, Oklahoma state director of National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said that, for people licensed in a certain occupation in other states who want to move to Oklahoma, HB 2873 will make obtaining a license faster and easier.

“An easier path to an Oklahoma license encourages workers and businesses to move here and start working right away,” Shouse told The Center Square. “Time is money, so the quicker someone can get to work in Oklahoma, the better it is for the person, their business and the Oklahoma economy.”

The bill was written by Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, and Sen. James Leewright, R-Oklahoma City. It recognizes the similarities in training and skills for the licensed professions and gives accredited individuals standing in Oklahoma while helping local businesses.

“This bill is good policy because it paves the way for licensees coming to Oklahoma while treating in-state applicants fairly,” Leewright said, according to KFOR. “It will stabilize the Oklahoma business environment and promote economic opportunities while continuing to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.”

Universal licensing is important because it promotes business, Shouse said.

Shouse said the measure help boost the state’s economy, which has one of the lower unemployment rates currently.

“Oklahoma has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, which makes it challenging to find qualified workers,” Shouse said. “Many small businesses here in Oklahoma are delaying plans to expand or are turning down new business opportunities because there aren’t enough Oklahomans’ who can fill job vacancies.”

Arizona became the first state in the country to accept out-of-state occupational licenses when Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation in 2019. Since then, several other states have passed similar laws.