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New Mexico relaxes occupational license requirements, fees

October 4, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has directed state agencies and boards to reduce requirements for occupational licenses in dozens of fields, pushing through the reforms by executive order as she prepares to leave office.

Announcing the changes Wednesday, Martinez said she aimed to make it easier for people to enter the workforce by reducing educational and testing requirements for entry-level positions and lowering licensure fees.

Fees will be waived entirely for poor and low-income residents who receive food stamps or subsidized health care under Medicaid, the governor’s office said.

The order applies to boards overseeing licensing for careers in acupuncture, oriental medicine, architecture, barber shops, cosmetology, tattooing, funeral services, massage therapy, public accounting, real estate sales, social work, sign language interpreting and more.

Occupational licensing by states often is designed to address concerns for public safety and consumer protection but a patch quilt of state rules is being criticized for limiting work opportunities and making it difficult to transfer professional skills across state lines.

The executive order from Martinez, a Republican who cannot run for a third term in November, is designed to make it easier to transfer licenses from other states to New Mexico, or substitute relevant prior work experience in some instances.

The governor’s office said the changes also would make it easier for people with criminal records to obtain licenses and find jobs. She previously vetoed legislation that would have prevented private employers from asking about felony convictions on initial job applications.

Disqualifying crimes must pertain directly to the occupation in question, under the order. And candidates who are refused occupational licenses must receive a clear reason for the refusal and instructions on how to appeal without delay.

The conservative-leaning group Americans for Prosperity praised provisions of New Mexico’s licensure reforms that would allow residents to practice non-medical occupations without a license by informing each prospective customer and obtaining a signed contract.

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