Friday, June 26, 2020

Major Licensing Reforms Deliver Opportunity

Gov. Kim Reynolds signing the occupational licensing reform bill into law on Thursday, June 25. 
Among the flurry of lawmaking during the last week of this year’s incredibly unique legislative session, was a bill that removes barriers to entering the workforce and makes Iowa more attractive to workers and businesses. 

House File 2627 changed Iowa’s occupational licensing system by:
  • Implementing universal recognition (recognizing the licensure or experience a person obtained in another state)
  • Bringing criminal justice reforms to the licensing process for those with a conviction history
  • Waiving the licensing fees for Iowans with incomes under 200% of the poverty level 
But merely listing the changes to Iowa’s laws doesn’t accurately paint the picture of what these reforms will do. While promoting the idea that “opportunity lives here” during her Condition of the State address this January, Governor Kim Reynolds noted that a quarter of Iowa’s workforce requires some kind of professional license, the second highest in the nation.  The Governor recognized that, “Our licensing requirements are also the worst for low-income people, meaning that those who need opportunity the most have the hardest time getting a license.” 

Who is someone in need of that opportunity? 

Senator Waylon Brown, floor manager of the legislation in the Iowa Senate, shared the story of a young, widowed mother of two seeking a fresh start following the loss of her husband.

After moving back home to Iowa to be closer to her extended family, she couldn’t continue in her career because Iowa has more stringent requirements than her former state of residence and wouldn’t recognize her license. At the moment, this young woman is working multiple jobs so she can make enough money to pay for the additional hours of education Iowa requires.

This legislation does not ignore public safety.  

Skilled and experienced workers moving to Iowa are still required to be in good standing within their current state and they also must have a record free of suspensions or other disciplinary action. This legislation simply recognizes that workers don’t lose their abilities when they cross state lines.

A handful of other states have enacted some form of universal recognition, criminal justice reforms, or fee waivers. Iowa is the first state, however, to combine all of those elements in a single licensing reform bill, and the first state to recognize experience in place of licensure.

The leadership Governor Reynolds displayed in advocating for these reforms, as well as a Legislature that voted in a bi-partisan manner to put working Iowans ahead of special interests, delivered game-changing reforms for Iowa and workers looking to re-locate here.

Cutting the red tape tax ensures opportunity.

Excessive occupational licensing laws have served as a hidden red tape tax that hurt Iowa’s working class by making it more difficult and more expensive to earn a living and fill high-demand jobs. As we all work our way through the economic impact of COVID-19, this was an excellent time for Iowa lawmakers to ensure opportunity lives here for everyone.

Policy Experts Across the Country are Taking Notice:

States Are Removing Barriers to Earning A Living
- Americans for Tax Reform

“Destructive and stupid old laws are most likely to be repealed when surrounded by examples of better (or no) laws. Good laws drive out bad laws.” - Grover Norquist

"Onerous occupational licensure laws keep Americans from their right to earn a living... Once implemented, HF 2627 will allow new Iowans to use the training and skills they already have without additional red tape."
Laura Ebke, Platte Institute Senior Fellow for Job Licensing Reform and a former Nebraska State Senator

“Iowa’s recently passed occupational reform legislation sets the bar higher for those of us in the Midwest, combining universal recognition, criminal justice elements, and fee waivers for new licensees. Universal recognition is one of the best ways for rural states to make it easier for those who are already well-trained to move to our states—and easier for our kids and grandkids who have been trained and working elsewhere to make the decision to return home. The difficulty in transferring their skills into licensure in a different state undoubtedly prevents many from making the decision to move; this will help make Iowa a more attractive place to move to—or BACK to.”
Iowa Is Working to Help Its Residents Get to Work
- Goldwater Institute, Arizona

"Iowa’s Senate File 2418 accomplishes a great number of things: It advances critical criminal justice reforms, waives licensure fees for low-income workers, and adopts universal recognition"
Iowa adopts model occupational licensing reform package
- Badger Institute, Wisconsin

"[Wisconsin] state lawmakers should follow Iowa’s lead and remove licensing obstacles that impede workers’ ability to provide for themselves and their families."

"Small, simple legislative changes like these will improve the lives of workers and residents."
Iowa to offer universal recognition of job licenses
- Platte Institute, Nebraska

"All in all, the Iowa bill is comprehensive in scope... Now it’s time for us to renew our commitment to that process, look at what our neighbors are doing, and take further action to ensure that we remain competitive in the labor market well into the future."

Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform President
Our friend, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, has done a great job of explaining an issue that may be brewing in Washington:
"The Treasury Department is considering moving tax payment and tax filing deadlines, according to recent media reports. While some fail to make a distinction between tax payments and tax filing, there is an important difference.

Delaying tax PAYMENT deadlines is a positive step that will help Americans receive liquidity in this economic downturn.

However, delaying tax FILING deadlines would be counterproductive to this goal as it would discourage people from filing, which would result in the government keeping tax refunds owed to millions of Americans...In any given year, almost three in four Americans receive a tax refund averaging $3,000. Despite this, many people wait until the last minute to file every year...Many of these individuals have not filed simply because they do not have to. Extending the tax filing deadline will therefore benefit the government, not taxpayers by extending the interest free loan that many individuals give the government from overpaying taxes throughout the year."
What about here in Iowa?  

Iowans for Tax Relief agrees with Mr. Norquist about federal IRS deadlines.  A different approach, however, is needed in Iowa; we should keep the filing and payment deadlines in place for our state.

While the federal government budget is filled with spending largess, our state is run much leaner. Besides, while the federal government can literally print money, not to mention that the feds aren't restrained by any requirement to actually balance their budget, Iowa is bound by law to be fiscally responsible. Cutting off such a large portion of the state's revenue could lead to many unintended consequences.

In Case You Missed It

What did legislators accomplish?

Removing occupational licensing barriers
Protecting businesses and health care providers
Iowa's $7.78 billion budget review
Back under the dome

Lawmakers return to the Capitol
Reynolds is delivering transparency
Somebody's going to pay the bill
Roadmap to recovery

Freeze government salaries, Don't increase taxes,
Remove excessive licensing regulations, 
Increase government transparency,
COVID liability protection, and Eliminate the welfare cliff effect
Iowa's digital divide - rural internet

Policies to connect more Iowans to broadband
Use taxpayer dollars wisely
Nancy Pelosi pushing more spending

Show Me Reform
Legislature to Reconvene June 3rd
Keeping an Eye on Georgia

Complete 2020 ITR Watchdog Newsletter Archive
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It’s easy for politicians to yield to noisy special interest groups when the taxpayer keeps quietly paying the bills.
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