Occupational licensing reform: It’s not just a Republican thing

Jannelle Calderon
Jannelle Calderon

Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo signed an executive order last month blocking all Nevada occupational and professional licensing boards from implementing new regulations and calling on them to recommend ways to speed up the licensure process. 

His order asserts that “Nevada has been identified nationally as having among the nation’s most onerous occupational licensing requirements, and it is in the State’s best long-term economic interest to have a fair, open, competitive and inclusive economy.”

While two Democratic lawmakers said they have no position or did not want to comment on the order itself, they are working on some occupational licensing reform efforts of their own.

State Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) told The Nevada Independent that he supports addressing the state’s shortages in health care and other industries. 

Doñate said he is working on a bill to address the health care provider shortage by making it easier for international medical graduates and physicians from other countries to transfer and practice in Nevada. 

“Physicians that are already living here, that have the ability to practice, but it's just the licensure process … standing in their way,” he said. “We want to make sure that they're also caught up to speed with the regulations in the state and protecting the quality of care, but we are very underserved when it comes to physicians.”

Doñate added that while he’s looking to facilitate the process, doctors would still “have to pass the same exams” to practice in the state. 

Assemblywoman Selena Torres (D-Las Vegas) said teachers have “overly strict and overbearing” requirements to earn an educator license. 

She told The Nevada Independent she is working on legislation to eliminate the “red tape" to become an educator with the goal of filling teacher vacancies.

“I think that legislators have the responsibility to ensure that we're continuing to keep a quality education,” she said. “When we have more vacancies in schools, it makes schools less safe, as well as making it harder for students to learn and grow.”

Assemblywoman Selena Torres speaks with Nevada Indian Commission Executive Director Stacey Montooth on Feb. 14 during the 82nd legislative session in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Torres said she hopes her legislation would help teachers of minority backgrounds, including those who are bilingual and from low-income communities, earn their licenses. 

“They sometimes struggle with taking on some of the barriers in the teacher licensure process, and I think if we eliminate those, we're able to better support our educators,” she said.

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 Legislature. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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