The business-oriented Platte Institute on Tuesday urged the Legislature to accelerate the pace of occupational licensing reforms, arguing that such action would create new jobs and spur business activity in the state.

"We've still got too much red tape on the books and the Legislature won't be able to make enough of an impact by picking away at licenses one at a time," Sarah Curry, policy director at Platte, said during a telephone news conference.

A comprehensive evaluation of all occupational licenses required in nearly 200 professions has been proposed in pending legislation (LB299) that would provide for occupational board reform.

The call for sweeping licensing reform follows on the heels of Gov. Pete Ricketts' executive order launching a review of all state regulations.

"This review will identify unnecessary red tape and eliminate harmful and wasteful regulations that are a hindrance to the job creators, ag producers, startups and small businesses that are growing our state," Ricketts said in announcing his action last week.

"Nebraska has started the conversation of occupational licensing," Curry said, "but there is more work to be done."

Reform does not always point to elimination of requirements for licenses, former Sen. Nicole Fox said. Sometimes, what is needed, she said, is "adjustment to requirements" or reciprocity with other states.

Fox is director of government relations for Platte.

Some opponents of licensing reform are acting to "protect their turf," Fox said.

Curry said Nebraska ranks as the "44th worst state in terms of licensing" requirements.

Legislative action this year "reduced slightly" the number of licensed professions and streamlined some licensing requirements, Platte stated in an accompanying news release.

"But many of the state's most burdensome occupational licensing laws still remain stubbornly unchanged or unexamined."

As a result, Platte stated, "fewer new jobs and new businesses are being created in Nebraska than in the states which gain the most population and income from relocating Nebraskans."

Consumers are "overpaying for services and workers are being pushed out of professions," Platte argued.

Senators will conduct eight interim studies dealing with licensing reforms prior to the end of the year. 

Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete introduced the occupational board reform bill. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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