Oklahoma eliminates licensing barriers for people with criminal records: Weekly regulatory news 
Oklahoma criminal justice reform weekly regulatory news
The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy. Oklahoma eliminates licensing barriers for people with criminal records, Louisiana Senate approves universal licensure recognition bill, and more in our latest Week in Brief.

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Louisiana Senate approves universal licensure recognition bill

The Louisiana Senate has approved legislation to recognize occupational licenses and work experience from other states. SB 453 requires boards to issue an occupational license to a person if they hold a current and valid license in another state with a similar scope of practice, as determined by the professional or occupational licensing board in Louisiana. The person must have held the license in another state for at least one year and must pass an examination or meet education, training, or experience standards. Those that apply must be in good standing, not have a disqualifying criminal record, and not have faced issues with negligence or intentional misconduct related to their work in the occupation. The Senate approved SB 483 with a vote of 37-0, with no questions or discussion. The bill now heads to the House for consideration. Read more from New Orleans City Business.

Oklahoma eliminates licensing barriers for people with criminal records

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that will make it easier for people with criminal records to become licensed in their chosen field. Building on reforms enacted in 2015 and 2019, SB 1691 bans boards from denying licenses based on convictions that happened more than five years ago (though this does not apply to violent or sexual offenses); prevents boards from using arrests that didn’t result in a conviction as well as sealed or expunged records; blocks boards from denying applicants based on vague and arbitrary “good character” requirements; and guarantees the right to appeal a denied license. With this new bill, which passed the state’s legislature almost unanimously, Oklahoma joins 37 other states that have removed licensing barriers for ex-offenders since 2015. Read more at Fox25 News.

Oklahoma boosts funding for medical marijuana enforcement

Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed two new bills into law that will increase funding for local enforcement of the medical marijuana industry, as well as target illicit sales of cannabis in Oklahoma. HB 3530 sets aside $5 million in annual grant funding for county sheriffs to dedicate a full-time deputy to assist with compliance visits conducted by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. According to the bill’s authors, compliance inspectors were denied access 181 times between April 2021 and February of this year. SB 1367 cracks down on illegal sales of marijuana by increasing penalties for those who buy and then sell medical marijuana to someone without a patient license to $5,000 for the first offense and $15,000 for subsequent violations. Previously, administrative fines ranged between $200 and $400. Read more at The Oklahoman.

Nebraska approves casino regulations, but licensing on hold

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts recently signed off on the state’s casino regulations, paving the way for licensing applications for the new market. But it will be a few more weeks before applicants can apply for licenses, as the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission has yet to agree on a fee structure for the applications, which won’t be resolved at least until its next meeting on June 2. Commission Director Tom Sage estimates that licensing will take 30 to 60 days to process before final approval (or not), meaning that Nebraska’s prospective operators will likely be able to begin construction work on their casino proposals in late summer or early fall. Nebraska voters approved casino gaming for the state’s racetracks at the November 2020 ballot, and it’s estimated that legalizing casino gambling will boost state coffers by between $60 million and $120 million per year. Read more at Casino.org.

Pennsylvania nurses are waiting months for their licenses

New nurses in Pennsylvania are waiting months to get their licenses from the State Board of Nursing. The long delays come amid an ongoing nationwide shortage of healthcare workers. FOX43 reports that the licensing process, which should take about 12 to 15 weeks, is now taking four to six months. Current registered nurses in Pennsylvania are also facing wait times of up to three months to renew their licenses, when the renewal process should take about three calendar days. According to a new report from the Joint State Government Commission, the delays are being caused by low staffing levels as well as numerous IT issues with the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS), a $10 million centralized electronic system for licensing boards launched in 2016. The Commission is recommending seven changes to the Board of Nursing, including increasing staffing levels and improving the current licensing system (which the Board says it is planning to replace). Read more here.

Other news:

  • Kentucky Rep. Adam Koenig has been appointed to the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission (IIPRC) of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a group aimed at modernizing state insurance regulations and adopting a streamlined system of product regulation.
  • The state of Illinois has suspended the license of online auto dealer Carvana after the company failed to properly transfer titles on vehicles it sold and misused out-of-state temporary registration permits.
  • The Rhode Island House and Senate are voting on a pair of bills that call for the legalization of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and set up parameters for regulation, taxation, sale, and possession of cannabis.

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Got a news tip? Write us at editor@ascend.thentia.com.

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Ariel Visconti
Written byAriel Visconti
Ariel Visconti researches and writes on government and politics, regulation, occupational licensing, and emerging technologies.

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