Any profession or occupation that wants state regulation will have to cough up $500 and fill out a 54-question application if a legislative task force has its way.
Legislative and public members of the Occupational and Professional Licensure Sunrise Task Force Tuesday hammered out the details of a bill they will propose in the next session. If approved, the bill would ask professions that are seeking licensing to argue their case before a 13-member board. And it would make J. Craig Jackson's job a little easier."For a serious occupation or profession that the state really should look at carefully to regulate, I don't think there are any obstacles here that should impede them," said Jackson, director of the state's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. "Occupations or professions that really haven't gelled might find this not to their liking."
Jackson has said that two to five professions seek state oversight during the average legislative session, and DOPL already regulates 146 classifications of jobs. Under the current system, any group that seeks regulation needs only to find a sponsor for its bill. The legislative committee that gets those bills often receives little information about them and must make a recommendation in a short period of time.
The proposed bill's review procedure would ask that such professions first pay a non-refundable $500 fee and fill out an application to address certain criteria, such as whether the unregulated practice of the occupation could harm or endanger public health and safety and whether regulation would impose significant economic hardship on the public.
Before going to the Legislature, that application would be reviewed by a committee made up of six legislators, four past members of state professional licensing boards and three people from the general public who are not licensed by DOPL.
Jackson said the process should help occupations that are serious about licensure by forcing them to refine their reasons for wanting it. And it will help legislators by giving them more information on which to base their licensing decisions.
At least 13 other states have similar procedures, but some do not require an applicant to pay a processing fee.
Keith Woodwell, associate general counsel assigned to the task force, said the idea behind the fee is to have applicants help pay for the new procedure.
Task force member Wayne Samuelson of the University of Utah said $500 will not cover the committee's costs, but it will set a good threshold.
"You've got to be reasonably serious about it to scrape together more than $500," Samuelson said. "It's not pocket change."
W. Ray Walker, DOPL enforcement counsel, said the fee and application requirements may stop some professions that want licensing just to gain an air of legitimacy or for economic reasons.