by Christen Smith
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said Tuesday the state will refund residents every time it delays processing applications for occupational licenses, certifications and permits.
“Under my administration, Pennsylvanians will have certainty,” he said. “They will know how long it will take for agencies to respond, and if an agency doesn’t live up to that promise, they deserve their money back.”
Under Shapiro’s latest executive order, agencies must offer applicants a “date certain” for a response. If it’s missed, the applicant receives a full refund of the fees they paid when filing.
The order will impact nurses, cosmetologists, barbers, pharmacists, physicians and social workers, among other licensed occupations, who often pay hundreds of dollars to remain in regulatory compliance with the state.
“Pennsylvanians work hard to keep our economy moving, and the commonwealth should work just as hard to process their applications,” Shapiro said.
The governor’s third executive order in just over a week targets employment access and follows two others that eliminate college degree requirements for 92 percent of state jobs, and forms a new office focused on streamlining business growth.
All three appear to be priorities upon which the divided General Assembly agrees.
Over the last two years, the Legislature made permanent many licensing requirements waived during the COVID-19 pandemic and opened up the process to residents with certain criminal convictions. Veteran applications now also receive expedited processing and existing licensees can build continuing educational credits virtually.
Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Greensburg, told The Center Square that Shapiro’s executive action “to make government more efficient” serves as a “great complement” to their efforts.
Shapiro, himself, expressed optimism that his actions reflect the sentiments of legislative members of both parties who told him they want fewer bureaucratic obstacles to ease the labor shortage and spur economic growth.
He also noted that statutory changes may lay ahead to further support these efforts.
“Many of them [members] have been encouraged where we are heading with this,” he said. “Based on the feedback I’ve gotten so far, I think we are going to have a very receptive bipartisan response.”
Nicole Reigelman, spokeswoman for House Democrats, said the caucus is prepared for the possibility, too.
“The House Democratic Caucus is encouraged by the direction of Governor Shapiro’s first three executive orders,” she told The Center Square. “Our members look forward to working with the administration to strengthen its executive orders with legislation if needed, and on advancing our other shared policy priorities.”
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Christen Smith joins The Center Square as its Pennsylvania News Editor and brings with her more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues from all angles.
Photo “Josh Shapiro” by Tom Wolf. CC BY 2.0.