LePage Administration Introduces Legislation to Reduce Barriers to Entry for Regulated Professions

April 19, 2017

Licensing reforms make it easier for employers to find workers, Mainers to break into careers

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage and Commissioner Anne Head of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) on Wednesday highlighted bills proposed by the Administration during this year’s legislative session that would make it easier to hire and work in Maine.

DPFR oversees Maine’s professional licensing boards, which regulate who may obtain or maintain a license to work in certain professions, including engineering, medicine, building trades, cosmetology and many more.

“One of the biggest challenges Maine businesses face is finding the qualified professionals they need to do the work that needs to be done,” said Governor LePage. “For Mainers and people thinking of moving here, one of the biggest barriers to starting work is the regulatory wall they must scale in order to become licensed to practice their trade here. To keep our economy moving, we have to make it easier for people to work in Maine and for businesses to hire in Maine.”

Three bills introduced by DPFR and its associated professional boards would remove barriers to professional entry for engineers, electricians, funeral practitioners and pump installers. Measures include allowing boards more discretion to license professionals from out of state, simplifying the process of professional examination, allowing experience to substitute for formal education and removing residency requirements.

Another bill focuses on veterans, allowing the director of the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation to waive or amend licensing requirements at her discretion, under the consultation of the board, for veterans with military training and experience comparable to those required by civilian licensure boards.

“The state strives to be a helping hand, not an obstacle, for professionals trying to practice their trade in Maine and businesses trying to hire them,” said Commissioner Head. “We will be working with lawmakers to emphasize the importance of streamlining our licensing laws to make it easier to live, work, and run a business in Maine. We are facing a severe shortage of qualified workers in many professions and this legislation will help to reverse that trend.”

Highlights of Proposed Legislation

LD 1165: An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Licensure for Professional Engineers

• Requires the State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers to grant licensure to applicants from other jurisdictions who have been licensed in good standing for at least 10 years and whose qualifications are substantially equivalent to those required by the state.

• Provides for temporary licensure for practice by nonresidents.

• Removes the requirement for four years of engineering work experience prior to taking the national exam, allowing them to take the exam at any time they’re prepared.

• Removes the requirement for individuals who fail the exam three times to reapply and provide proof of further experience or study. They may take the exam three times, and all that matters is that they pass.

• Removes the requirement for 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

LR 763 – An Act To Amend the Electricians’ Examining Board Licensing Laws

• Reduces the required years of licensed experience in the electrical field prior to board appointment from 10 to 5 years.

• Expands the board’s authority to license applicants licensed in other states that do not require electrical education if the applicants can document comparable work experience in substitution of electrical education.

• Reduces the minimum number of work hours that a journeyman licensed in a reciprocal state must show to obtain a journeyman or master license in Maine in order to allow a journeyman licensed as such in a reciprocating state to be credited for those hours of work experience.

LR 764 – An Act To Update Professional and Occupational Licensing Laws

• Removes a residency requirement for licensed funeral practitioners and other licensees of the Board of Funeral Service

• Establishes an exemption from licensure for pump installers who are licensed by DHHS and repeals the licensure provision for plumbing companies.

LR 2254 – An Act To Remove Barriers to Professional Licensing for Veterans

• Grants the director of the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation the authority to modify licensing requirements of professional licensing boards on a case-by-case basis for applicants for licensure who are military veterans.