Just because a particular legislative proposal sounds good doesn’t mean it should become law.
Such is the case with a bill that would radically reduce the amount of time required to issue occupational licenses to those who move to Kansas. Five years ago, the Legislature passed a bill that smoothed the process for military spouses and service members.
That law makes a certain amount of sense; those who serve and those in their families may be required to move across the country with little notice. Allowing them to practice a trade quickly and efficiently makes some sense.
But expanding that rule to everyone who moves to Kansas — shortening the time allowed for license review from two months to 10 days — just goes too far.
“We have concerns that the changes included in this bill could have serious unintended consequences, which jeopardize the core duty of the Board of Healing Arts to protect the public,” said Rachelle Colombo, Kansas Medical Society executive director, according to coverage from The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Tim Carpenter.
Issuing new licenses in 10 days is an “impossibly short” timeline, said Michael Grogan, president-elect of the American Institute of Architects and an assistant professor at Kansas State University.
As Colombo pointed out, the bill creates winners and losers. Those coming to Kansas from other states wouldn’t face an in-depth review. Folks in Kansas still would. And attorneys are exempted from the entire process.
We will be blunt. A two-month wait for a license, while hardly convenient, doesn’t seem unreasonable for professionals whose jobs could well involve the health of state residents.
We want Kansans to be healthy and well cared for. Creating a loophole that essentially allows whatever state with the possible lowest licensing standards to funnel recipients into Kansas would put too many people at risk. It could create perverse incentives for businesses to hire lower-qualified applicants from out of state.
Certain sectors of the conservative community have long raged against professional licenses, They see them as anti-competitive and limiting the ability of Americans to ply their trades. There is indeed space for a broader conversation about the purposes and outcomes around licensing. Perhaps fewer trades should require them.
That’s also a conversation that would take time and effort and compromise. The bill in question would short-circuit that process, in favor of a brute-force approach. It’s not right for Kansas.