Representative Molly Donahue (D) was the only member of the House State Government Committee to vote against a bipartisan occupational licensing reform bill.
“Aimed at helping attract skilled workers, House Study Bill 647, would allow workers with licenses from other states to practice their trade in Iowa without going through additional training, taking a separate exam, or paying an application fee”
Governor Kim Reynolds announced the bill in her Condition of the State address in January. The bill’s goal is to help individuals such as cosmetologists, barbers, HVAC techs, and plumbers face fewer obstacles when pursuing positions in Iowa with out of state credentials. It would also grant exceptions for individuals convicted of committing a crime as long as there was clear and convincing evidence they had been rehabilitated. If the licensing board denied the exemption, they would have to justify the denial in writing—the full text of House Study Bill 647.
When asked why she voted no Donahue claimed that she was concerned about low standards. After hearing about the vote, Mark Morgan of Foster’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Marion was left wondering why Donahue voted the way she did.
“Where there’s a demonstrated need of quality licensed individuals, We should welcome them even if they’re from out of state,” said Morgan. He also noted that he was not concerned about lower standards as long as they were licensed.
Despite Rep. Donahue’s no vote, The bill passed through the subcommittee with broad bipartisan support. The Iowa House State Government Committee comprises of 23 members, 10 of which are Democrats. The final vote was 22-1. The issue of licensing reform in Iowa enjoys support from groups across the political spectrum, including the ACLU, Iowans for Tax Relief, Americans for Prosperity, and NFIB.
“This is a critical issue for employers all across the state. The unemployment rate in Iowa is one of the lowest in the country. That makes it hard for some small businesses to recruit the individuals they need to grow and thrive. We are encouraged about occupational licensing reform’s bipartisan support in the legislature and excited about the possibility of its eventual passage,” said Matt Everson, NFIB Iowa State Director
Both the Iowa Senate and the House have versions of a licensing reform bill. Capital insiders do expect a version to pass and head to the Governor’s desk before the end of session.