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Lamont Seeking to Streamline Occupational License Access to New Residents, Ex-Cons

  • Governor Ned Lamont issues legislative proposal to ease occupational licensing requirements in Connecticut
  • Proposal seeks to benefit skilled workers moving in from another state and while broadening in-state opportunities
  • Lamont also wants to remove barriers those with criminal records face in applying for an occupational license

Skilled workers moving to Connecticut would have an easier time getting an occupational license in the state under a legislative proposal recently introduced by Governor Ned Lamont. The proposed changes also seek to expand access to these licenses to in-state residents, including the removal of barriers to those with criminal records.

Lamont’s proposal would establish “a system to recognize licenses from other states subject to safeguards that ensure public health and safety is preserved.” He is also asking the state to consider whether “skills-based testing can substitute for onerous training requirements while enhancing public health and safety.”

One in four Connecticut jobs currently requires a professional license, and those wishing to work in one of these professions must get approval from the state government through the Department of Public Health or the Department of Consumer Protection. Lamont says that while this system provides a way to preserve public health and safety, guarantee consumer confidence, and support employee well-being, it can sometimes create” unnecessarily high barriers” to applicants.

In particular, skilled workers are 24 percent less likely to move to a new state compared to unlicensed workers due to concerns that they will face difficulties in acquiring the necessary license for their occupation. Lamont says newly arrived skilled workers have to navigate a complex process to determine if their out-of-state license will be recognized in Connecticut; usually it will only be honored if the applicant’s former state has a licensing process or requirements similar to Connecticut, potentially excluding qualified candidates with years of experience.

Lamont’s proposal would enable new residents to apply for an occupational license if they have practiced in good standing under another state’s license for at least one year. Connecticut departments would still take steps to ensure an applicant’s qualifications, including a requirement to demonstrate competence on any appropriate test, determining the practice level at which any Connecticut license should be issued, and denying any applications determined to be not in the best interest of the state.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many Americans to relocate from urban areas, is one driver of the proposal, as tens of thousands of new households have been established in Connecticut since the start of the pandemic. Lamont says he is also looking to better prepare health care workers for any necessary mobilization across state lines, and to support military spouses, who are more likely to move across state lines.

In addition, the reform would update a requirement saying license applicants should be of “good moral character” to clarify that licenses can only be denied because of relevant felony convictions, to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The legislation would direct agencies to streamline background checks and provide pre-clearance assessment of criminal history to allow potential applicants to begin their education or training. Lamont says one in four Americans has a criminal conviction on their record, and the updated process would help expand opportunities and reduce recidivism.

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