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Workforce licensing bill advances from committee

From EMTs to teachers, South Dakota is hungry for workers across a scope of industries.

A proposal advancing through the legislature aims to address that workforce shortage.

Sen. Jim Stalzer presented SB 76 to the House Commerce and Energy Committee. He said licensing regulations need to be reexamined for people looking to move to the state.

"South Dakota consistently ranks as a low-regulation, ‘open for business’ state,'"Stalzer said. "One of the only areas where we have fallen behind is in occupational licensing. The licensing recognition process in this bill simply allows people to receive a license without duplicating the training and education they went through in a previous state."

The bill is backed by Gov. Kristi Noem, who discussed the issue in her State of the State Address.

The proposal saw many speak in support of the bill Wednesday, including Joe Graves, secretary of the State Department of Education. He said the bill would support similar policies that have proven effective within the DoE.

“Since 2017 we’ve approved 1,077 applications for reciprocity across the country, including 49 states, Guam, and the District of Columbia," Graves said. "It has had a major impact on at least reducing the problem of teacher shortage. It hasn’t eliminated it – but it had a major impact on reducing that shortage.”

Another supporter, Rep. Tyler Tordsen, said the bill would deepen South Dakota’s workforce well.

“This allows us to recruit talented, certified individuals from other states, some of them with South Dakota roots, some not, looking to move here," Tordsen said. "Instead of them taking a step back and having to rebuild, allowing a streamlined, more efficient process to get these talented individuals to come here and keep climbing.”

SB 76 advanced with a do-pass recommendation.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture