An Arizona Occupational Welcome

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.


Matt York/Associated Press

Arizona last year attracted more than 122,000 newcomers, many fleeing states with crushing regulation and taxes. Republicans are now giving overtaxed Californians and New Yorkers another reason to move to the state by making it easier to work and start businesses.

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Arizona Republicans this month introduced legislation to recognize other states’ occupational licenses, even if the courtesy isn’t reciprocated. Newcomers to Arizona would be required to hold a comparable license in another state for at least a year, and they could not have outstanding complaints, pending investigations or a disqualifying criminal history.

“Workers don’t lose their skills simply because they move to Arizona,” GOP Gov. Doug Ducey said last month. But they can’t work because of “our own licensing boards and their cronies, who tell them, ‘You can’t work here. You haven’t paid the piper.’” These gatekeepers feign concern about public safety, but their real objective is to limit competition and increase the price of services that consumers pay.

Arizona already recognizes many out-of-state licenses for military spouses, but starting over is tough for everyone else. In 2017 the Institute for Justice ranked the Grand Canyon State fourth worst in the nation for the burden and breadth of licensing requirements with 68 categories for lower-income workers such as manicurists, carpenters, emergency medical technicians and school bus drivers.

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But in 2017 Mr. Ducey signed legislation requiring licensing boards to waive fees for workers below 200% of the poverty level. Last year lawmakers made it easier for workers with a criminal record to obtain a license as long as it wouldn’t endanger the public or increase their likelihood of committing another crime. This could reduce recidivism, which has been linked to employment barriers.

Republican state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita has introduced a bill this year that would allow salon workers to blow-dry, style, straighten and curl hair without a license. They now have to train for a 1,000 hours or more, even if they don’t wield scissors or work with chemicals.

Arizona ranks among the fastest growing states in part because policy makers have interfered less with business than other states have. By taking on the licensing cartels, they’re welcoming workers with open arms unlike, well, progressives in New York.


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