In case you missed it during this busy week, a bill was introduced in the North Carolina Senate to create a system of universal licensure recognition in North Carolina. In a research brief this week, my colleague Jon Sanders wrote about the components of the bill. Sanders writes,

The bill would require an occupational licensing board to issue a license to someone who has moved into North Carolina and applied for the license in his or her field of work if that person, among other things:

  • has a current license in another state
  • has been licensed for at least a year
  • is in good standing
  • has met all licensing requirements in that state
  • is not under disciplinary action
  • doesn’t have a disqualifying criminal record
  • pays all licensing fees

The bill would not alter any preexisting reciprocity arrangements between licensing boards in this state and other states, nor would it make individuals licensed via universal license recognition entitled to licensure in other states under interstate licensing compacts. It would not change the licensing boards’ current licensing standards nor preclude licensees under universal license recognition from satisfying those standards.

For years, researchers at the John Locke Foundation documented the problems of burdensome occupational licensing and the benefits of occupational freedom. As we look towards rebounding from the devastation from the coronavirus, occupational licensing reform will be essential.

Making it easier for people to work in North Carolina is a core theme of the recommendations in the John Locke Foundation’s new economic revival report, Carolina Rebound. Carolina Rebound is our road map to jumpstart the North Carolina economy and break the status quo of policies that limit freedom in our state.

In both the “Red Tape, Overregulation, and Law” and “Health Care” sections, our team calls for greater freedom for workers who wish to work in North Carolina, freeing them from redundant, expensive occupational licensing requirements that may not increase public safety. Concerning health care workers, creating a streamlining the process for those who hold licenses in another state but wish to practice in North Carolina will go a long way in helping address the maldistribution of providers facing our state.


The map above indicates where there are shortages of primary care, mental, and dental professionals. As you can see, several counties in North Carolina suffer from a shortage of all of these professionals. One way to increase the supply would be to allow licensed health professionals who are licensed in other states to quickly and cheaply obtain a license to practice in North Carolina. As practices such as telehealth gain popularity, we shouldn’t limit who can treat North Carolina patients just because of where they live. Our state allows out-of-state professionals to practice in the state without a North Carolina license during emergencies like hurricanes and pandemics. It’s time we make that opportunity permanent.

The goal of our Carolina Rebound report is to offer a road map to reviving our once-booming economy. Freedom to work is a central tenant of that plan.