New state panel begins review of professional licenses

The chairman of a state panel that's assessing Indiana's need for more than 200 types of professional licenses, permits and certifications said Thursday the group hopes to "strike the proper balance" between consumer protection and unnecessary burdens on occupations that range from pharmacists to cosmetologists.

A bill lawmakers passed in March created the Job Creation Committee, which met for the first time Thursday to begin reviewing the state's myriad regulatory requirements for professionals.

Committee Chairman Nicholas Rhoad said the panel's work will be important to Indiana's more than 115,000 small businesses, which account for nearly half of the state's jobs.

"We need to make sure we strike the proper balance between public safety and burdensome regulatory practices so that Indiana's economy can flourish and citizens can prosper," he said.

Rhoad is executive director of the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, an umbrella agency for 38 state boards, commissions and committees that oversee more than 240 types of licenses, permits and certifications between them.

Over the next five years, the committee will assess a host of issues related to Indiana's regulated occupations and send recommendations to lawmakers and the governor's office, including whether some of the state's professional licenses should be eliminated or combined into a single license.

The committee also will assess the cost of administering and renewing licenses, permits and certifications and whether any of the 38 boards should be combined or eliminated.

At Thursday's meeting, the committee began its review of the first of those boards, the Board of Accountancy, which licenses certified public accountants. Those licenses are required for CPAs to practice accounting in the state.

The Board of Accountancy's director, Hannah Fichter, told the panel there are currently more than 12,300 active CPA licenses in the state, of which nearly 1,000 have been issued since mid-2012.

Since 2002, Indiana has created more than 40 new professional requirements, including 20 new licensed occupations, while eliminating only three licensure requirements and regulatory mandates, said Nick Goodwin, the IPLA's spokesman.

He said the IPLA had regulated about 340,000 actively licensed professionals in 2004, but that number has increased by nearly 40 percent, to about 470,000 professionals — meaning one in every seven working Indiana resident is currently licensed by the state agency.

Rhoad said the committee will ask practitioners, industry leaders and regulators in the years ahead to determine whether Indiana is providing the proper levels of customer service to professionals and the proper level of protections to Indiana consumers — and whether there's a better way to do that.

"What we're really trying to find out is what is that right level of regulation and what is the appropriate way to do it with the public's resources," he said.

Rhoad said the IPLA provides about $15 million in licensing, permit and certification fees each year to the state's general fund.

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