ACLU, Platte Institute and Senator Laura Ebke Announce Town Halls on Professional Licensing Reform

Affiliate: ACLU of Nebraska
September 15, 2017 2:00 pm

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ACLU of Nebraska
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LINCOLN, Neb – The ACLU of Nebraska is partnering with the Platte Institute and Nebraska state Sen. Laura Ebke for a series of town halls on ways to streamline Nebraska’s occupational licensing laws.

Nebraskans currently need government permission to enter nearly 200 professions, which affect job opportunities for about 1 in 4 working Nebraskans.

The events will kick off with a panel in Lincoln on September 26, followed by town halls hosted in Lexington, Norfolk, and Omaha throughout the fall. Speakers from each organization will highlight the economic and civil liberties impact of the state’s current requirements, which are often overseen by state boards made up of more established industry participants.

“People see the Platte Institute and the ACLU of Nebraska as being on different sides of the aisle,” said Jim Vokal, Chief Executive Officer of the Platte Institute.

“But cutting red tape to better job opportunities is such an important and uniting issue for the future of our state, that both of our teams want to save disagreements for another day, and stand together to reform how the State of Nebraska licenses people to work,” said Vokal.

In March, the Federal Trade Commission noted in a letter to Nebraska state senators that “Recent studies strongly suggest that the burdens of excessive occupational licensing fall disproportionately on the most economically disadvantaged citizens.” Nebraska is also one of 29 states where a criminal record can disqualify a worker from earning a professional license, making it harder for those leaving the criminal justice system to return to a productive life.

The town halls, entitled “Barriers to Better Jobs: How Job Licensing in Nebraska is Hurting Workers and the Economy,” will focus on state Legislative Bill 299, which was introduced by Sen. Laura Ebke.

“When government regulations prevent people from having good jobs and businesses from growing in Nebraska, government should find a way to reign things in,” said Ebke. “This bill is among my top legislative priorities and I’m excited to have conversations with Nebraskans about how we can work together to grow jobs and remove regulations that are hurting Nebraska families.”

LB299 which would create a regular review process of state licensing and licensing boards, reviewing all job licensing rules on the books over a 5-year cycle. The bill would also enable ex-offenders to receive verification of their eligibility to be licensed from boards prior to entering professional training.

“Nebraska’s system of mass incarceration, combined with our burdensome licensing structure, hurts Nebraska’s workforce and our economy, particularly communities of color and low-income Nebraskans,” said Danielle Conrad, Executive Director. “For someone with a criminal conviction to be a productive member of our community, they need to be able to fully participate in our economy and workforce. Nebraska’s existing professional licensing structure is full of potential barriers for those who have paid their debt to society. Removing those barriers will help more Nebraskans secure good jobs which not only helps them and their families, but supports our economy while reducing recidivism.”

Here is the complete agenda of events:

Panel on Occupational Licensing Reform: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 8:45-9:30 a.m.
Platte Institute Legislative Summit
Embassy Suites Lincoln, Regents ballroom DEF
1040 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68508

Katie Ambrogi, JD, Federal Trade Commission
Dr. Dick Carpenter, Institute for Justice
Danielle Conrad, Executive Director, ACLU of Nebraska
State Sen. Laura Ebke
State Sen. John Lowe

Town Hall in Lexington, Barriers to Better Jobs: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 6-7 p.m.
Central Community College-Lexington, Dawson County Opportunity Center Room 204
1501 Plum Creek Parkway, Lexington, NE 68850

State Sen. Laura Ebke
Christopher “Spike” Eickholt, Government Liaison, ACLU of Nebraska
Nicole Fox, Government Relations Director, Platte Institute

Register at

Town Hall in Norfolk, Barriers to Better Jobs: Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 6-7 p.m.
Black Cow Fat Pig
702 W. Norfolk Ave, Norfolk, NE 68701

State Sen. Laura Ebke
Nicole Fox, Government Relations Director, Platte Institute
Amy Miller, Legal Director, ACLU of Nebraska

Town Hall in Omaha, Barriers to Better Jobs: Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 6-7 p.m.
Metropolitan Community College, South Omaha Campus, Industrial Training Center Room 120
2909 Edward Babe Gomez Ave, Omaha, NE 68107

State Sen. Laura Ebke
Nicole Fox, Government Relations Director, Platte Institute
Amy Miller, Legal Director, ACLU of Nebraska

NOTE: All events are open to the media. All town hall events are open to the public with free food and refreshments provided. General admission at the Legislative Summit requires $20 registration at and includes hot breakfast.

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