My first reaction to this information in a Wall Street Journal editorial is that Rhode Island should rush to get on board:
This week South Dakota will introduce legislation to establish a Compact for the Temporary Licensure of Professionals—a multistate agreement that would change the presumption of occupational licensing from a roadblock to an open door. The compact would allow individuals who have been licensed in any profession or occupation in other participating states to receive, upon request within 30 days, an in-state temporary license. That would allow professionals from compacting states to start working immediately.
In fact, I’d go one step farther: If the rationale for occupational licensing is to ensure the safety of consumers, there’s no reason state government couldn’t review the requirements of other states and simply affirm that their requirements are adequate. Then Rhode Island could simply accept out-of-state licenses as a matter of course. We want it to be as easy as possible for people to work, for their own sake and for the sake of consumers.
The downside of the compact idea — particularly with states that actually have jobs on offer — is that it will make it easier for Rhode Island’s professionals to leave. The key to an open door policy is giving people reasons to come into your space. That’s the area in which Rhode Island needs the most work.