Kansas most recent state to revise occupational licensing law

On May 10, Governor Brownback of Kansas signed into law the most recent entrant in the occupational licensing reform sweepstakes, making his state the seventh in the past six weeks to enact substantial progressive legislation.  The new law borrows a number of features from the Institute of Justice‘s model occupational licensing law, including prohibiting consideration of non-conviction records, and convictions not “directly related to protecting the general welfare,” and affording aspiring applicants an opportunity for a  preliminary assessment of their eligibility and an “informal, written advisory opinion.”  It adds a feature from the recently enacted Indiana licensing law that bars consideration of most convictions after five years.  The new law also addresses health care licensure and employment.  Here’s a description of the new law that we just posted in the Restoration of Rights Project.

Occupational and professional licensing

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 74-120, originally enacted in 1972, provides as follows:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person, board, commission or similar body who determines the qualifications of individuals for licensure, certification or registration may consider any felony conviction of the applicant, but such a conviction shall not operate as a bar to licensure, certification or registration.

In May 2018 this general licensing statute was amended to add several additional provisions. See HB 2386, available here: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2017_18/measures/documents/hb2386_enrolled.pdf. The 2018 amendments require licensing boards to “list the specific civil and criminal records that could disqualify an applicant from receiving a license, certification or registration.” Kan. Stat. Ann. § 74-120(b)(1). Importantly, boards “may only list any disqualifying criminal records or civil court records that are directly related to protecting the general welfare and the duties and responsibilities for such entities.”  Moreover, ”in no case shall non-specific terms, such as moral turpitude or good character, or any arrests that do not result in a conviction be used to disqualify an individual’s application for licensure, certification, or registration.” Id.

Licensing boards are prohibited from considering an otherwise disqualifying criminal record or civil court record if five years have passed since the individual satisfied the sentence imposed and the individual has had no other convictions during that time. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 74-120(b)(2). However, boards may consider felony convictions, Class A misdemeanor convictions, and any conviction for which licensure could conflict with federal law, regardless of the time passed since the conviction. Id.

The amendments also provide individuals the opportunity to petition a licensing board at any time for a preliminary “informal, written advisory opinion concerning whether the individual’s civil or criminal records will disqualify the individual from obtaining such license, certification or registration.” Kan. Stat. Ann. § 74-120(b)(3). The board must respond to the petition within 120 days of receipt, and may not charge more than $50 for the response; however, the advisory opinion is not binding. Id.

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