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Lawmakers Considering More Control Over Occupational Licensing

Ohio Statehouse Legislative Chamber
Bob Hall

Lawmakers are considering a dramatic change to the way Ohio issues licenses for people in certain professions and industries. Supporters say this measure would help clear out unnecessary licensing boards.

The state requires a license for hundreds of different professions, with dozens of licensing boards also in operation. State Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) says the state should create a new way to oversee the licensure process to make sure it's not putting too much of a burden on professionals who want to work in Ohio.

The bill requires lawmakers to review all occupational licenses to decide if the regulations are too onerous or if the license is basically a "permission slip."

Supporters were hesitant to call out any one profession specifically but said there are industries that seem to unnecessarily require a license.

McColley says he crafted SB 255 in a way to not show favoritism for one profession over another.

“We are not going to be granting exemptions to occupational licenses because this process is meant to be broad it’s meant to be indiscriminate,” McColley said.

But several professional groups, such as engineers, have argued a license is imperative to protecting public safety.

Brooks Vogel with the the American Society of Civil Engineers testified before the committee saying every individual in Ohio is effected by an engineer’s work.

“While there may be other businesses in which licensing is excessive and unnecessary, it is clear that a fair and effective system exists in Ohio and that licensing of engineers is essential to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. There is no need or justification for opening the significant potential of SB 255 ending engineering licensure in Ohio,” said Vogel.

State Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) said the bill simply requires the legislature to review each license's requirements and commented that the argument Vogel laid out would be a good reason to keep engineering licenses after that review.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.