Mississippi could do away with licensing requirements for certain professions, a move supporters say could eliminate barriers to more people entering the workforce.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate are considering several bills dealing with occupational licensing. Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said Thursday that he has not read the occupational licensing bills that are being considered in the House, but he believes the Senate and House are "in unison on reducing the regulatory burden."
"The regulatory burden is an economic burden," Hosemann said. "We intend to address it every time that it comes forward."
Hosemann said that could mean eliminating regulations or eliminating state commissions that are setting regulations.
Republican Rep. Randy Boyd said Wednesday the current requirements are "impeding progress in getting jobs and allow people to make a living in this state."
"We just felt like the qualifications don't necessarily need to be met by the government. They need to be met by the people who use those facilities," said Boyd, who is chairman of the House Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee.
The bill doesn't stop people in those fields from getting additional training if they wish, Boyd said. An earlier version of the bill would have abolished licensing requirements for funeral directors, but that provision was removed.
House Bill 1315 passed the House last week, and held for the possibility of more debate before it moves to the Senate. House Bill 1303 would remove a requirement that nurse practitioners enter into a collaborative agreement with a physician to serve patients.
The bill would exempt nurse practitioners, or "advanced practice registered nurses," from having to contract with a physician after 3,600 hours of practice.
Republican Rep. Donnie Scoggin of Ellisville, the bill's sponsor, said the change could allow more people, especially those living in rural areas, access to healthcare.
"Nurse practitioners will continue to serve in the most rural, underserved part of our state," Scoggin said. "This will help to save Medicaid millions of dollars as we try to improve the chronic, poor health care of the state of Mississippi."
House Bill 1315 passed the House on Wednesday, and will head to the Senate for more work. Senate Bill 2187 and House Bill 1263 would require the state to recognize occupational licenses obtained in another state.
Licensing boards would be required to issue occupational licenses for professions without new testing or classroom training if a person held a license in good standing from another state for at least one year.
Professions covered under this legislation could include nursing and architecture.
Licensing boards would also be required to issue licenses if a person worked at least three years in a state that did not require a license for their occupation.
The Senate has not yet considered its bill. The House passed its own bill and sent it to the Senate.
House Bill 208 would remove a requirement that psychologists complete a one-year postdoctoral fellowship to receive a license after obtaining a doctorate.
Republican Rep. Missy McGee of Hattiesburg said the change was a request from the Mississippi Board of Psychology.
"During a time when psychologists are in short supply in the state and there are many concerns with mental health issues with our state, they believe that this is a deterrent to recruit psychologists to our state," McGee said Wednesday.
House Bill 208 passed the House and will head to the Senate for more work.