Governor creates new licensing ‘working group’

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,028 views 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has created a new “working group” to further study the state’s occupational licensing rules and regulations that began with a working group he created in February 2018.

The Occupational Licensure Reform Sustainability Group will continue the work of the Red Tape Reduction Working Group to recommend ways to streamline the state’s licensing and certification process without compromising public safety, his office said Friday (Feb. 14). The group also will consider reciprocal licensing agreements to allow Arkansas to recognize licenses and certificates of tradesmen who move to Arkansas from other states. The group will recommend additional reforms to be considered during the 2021 regular legislative session.

The new working group includes three members each from the Senate and House, and seven members appointed by Hutchinson:

Senator John Cooper, R-Jonesboro (co-chair)
Senator Ricky Hill, R-Cabot
Senator Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis
Representative Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs (co-chair)
Representative Michelle Gray, R- Melbourne
Representative Roger Lynch, R-Lonoke
Karen Whatley, the governor’s Director of Legislative and Agency Affairs
Dr. Charisse Childers, Director of Arkansas Division of Workforce Services
Darryl Bassett, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Licensing
Steven Porch, Chief Legal Counsel, Arkansas Department of Commerce
Connie Melton, Director of the Center for Health Protection, Arkansas Department of Health
Brad Nye, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Gary Isom, Consumer Representative

“During the 2019 regular session, the legislature passed 45 bills that affect licensure,” Hutchinson said. “I want to capitalize on that momentum and find more ways to improve the licensing process, especially for members of the military, and low-income or dislocated workers.”

The Occupational Licensure Reform Sustainability Group will work with the Occupational Licensure Advisory Group, a group of representatives from state licensing boards and outside stakeholders that include the Arkansas Veterans Coalition and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

The task force will present its recommendations to the governor in the fall of 2020. The group will disband at the close of the regular session of the General Assembly in 2021.