Occupational Licensing Reform in Iowa

Date: February 18, 2020

Iowa's High Number of Regulations is Hurting Our Economy

Iowa unemployment is among the lowest in the country, which makes it especially challenging to find qualified workers. Many small businesses in Iowa are delaying plans to expand or turning down new business opportunities because there aren’t enough Iowans who can step up and fill job vacancies.

While we like to think that Iowa’s doors are open for business, our state is one of the most regulated and licensed states in the country. It’s hurting our economy.



Iowa’s broken occupational licensing system has resulted in millions of dollars of lost revenue and tens of thousands of lost jobs. According to the Institute for Justice, Iowa has lost 48,000 jobs and $290 million in revenue because of burdensome occupational licensing regimes. Iowa is at a competitive disadvantage. Reciprocity, review of licenses and licensing boards, and fee waiver policies must be included in any reform bills.

NFIB is urging Iowa lawmakers to take action in 2020 and pass a comprehensive occupational licensing reform bill that breaks the financial and time consuming barriers for those who want to live and work in Iowa.

“Iowa is the 2nd most licensed state in the country. The state’s current rigorous and burdensome licensing system leads to financial and time-consuming barriers for people who want to move, live, work, and contribute to Iowa’s economy,” says NFIB Iowa State Director Matt Everson.

Great Clips - Cedar Rapids IA - 3.jpg

Jerry Akers owns 17 Great Clips locations in Iowa and Nebraska. He has 30 job openings but can’t find enough qualified workers to fill them. Akers says reforming Iowa’s occupational licensing regulations could help stop stylists choosing to live and work in neighboring states, where it’s easier and cheaper to earn a cosmetology license.


Occupational licensing reform and continued income tax reductions will help all small businesses in Iowa and the nearly 650,000 employees who work for a small business in Iowa to continue to thrive and prosper.


Here’s what occupational licensing reform legislation was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor do for Iowans:

This legislation makes it easier for people with a professional license in another state to transfer their license to Iowa on the condition they become a resident here. It also grants some exceptions for some convicted felons who would otherwise be denied a professional license if they proved they would be a good candidate and are rehabilitated. The bill also waives some licenses, application fees and effective date provisions. 




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