The Caucus Blog – Illinois’ Professional Licensing Law is Outdated

The professional licensure system in Illinois is antiquated and outdated, and as a result industry professionals from nurses to barbers to roofers can experience wait periods of three to nine months to begin working. The system, which has a never-ending backlog, has not been upgraded since 1999. Republican lawmakers have fought for the General Assembly to pass needed legislation with funding increases, but the status quo remains. At least 40 different professions require state licensure to work in Illinois, and these lengthy delays leave people out of work and the state leaving taxable income on the table. And in many cases, professionals in seasonal and outdoor industries can miss out on an entire year of income waiting out the current licensing system.

Professional licensure is intended to ensure public safety and maintain professional standards, but it can also create barriers to stifle economic growth. Individuals are asked to meet specific education and training requirements, and that can create barriers to entry. If the supply of professionals is restricted, consumers see higher prices and rising costs for services. Strict licensure can also hinder innovation and restrict competition within industries, slowing down economic growth and impeding advancements.

To address these concerns, House Republicans have fought for regulatory reforms to provide alternatives, such as certification or apprenticeship programs. These approaches can maintain professional standards while reducing barriers to entry and facilitating economic growth.

Over one million people in the state need a professional license to work. Gov. Pritzker has been quoted as saying the number of processors at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has been increased from 20 to 45 since 2019, leading to what he claims are average license processing times being reduced from 10 to 12 weeks to four to five weeks. Quite simply, that is not accurate nor good enough. Republicans have worked with IDFPR officials on this issue, and with needed reforms and funding increases those wait times could be reduced even further to just one week in many cases.

These industry professionals have paid for their education and in some cases are transferring to Illinois from another state. These lengthy delays are not acceptable, but Democrats continue to push other initiatives while Republicans have brought real solutions to the table. These hard-working Illinoisans want to get to work, consumers deserve healthy competition and fair prices, and the state can benefit by collecting taxable income sooner.

“Getting licensed to earn a living and serve the residents of Illinois should not be require such a difficult and lengthy process,” stated Rep. Kevin Schmidt, (R-Cahokia Heights). “There are known ways to improve the problems with professional licensing, and the solutions are out there. House Republicans will continue to fight to pass needed legislation.”

Rep. Amy Elik (R-Alton) is a member of the CLIMB Task Force which is reviewing professional licensing standards for certain fields. She added that the situation has not improved and there are still lots of people waiting a very long time.

“A limited supply of licensed professionals can result in cost increases for consumers,” stated Rep. Elik. “Why would we not do everything we can to get people to work in their desired industry as quickly as possible while also serving the needs of our constituents? These delays are hurting job growth and need to be addressed.”

Rep. Dave Severin recently convened a meeting between IDFPR and Minority Leader Tony McCombie about proposed solutions to the licensure delays. More to come on those legislative and administrative solutions in an upcoming Caucus Blog article.