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License to thrive: Arizona bill would allow reciprocity for regulated professions

April 9, 2019

HB 2569 will recognize out-of-state occupational licenses, opening up ability to work in Arizona for many

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

The Arizona Legislature recently passed HB 2569, a bill that would loosen occupational licensing laws in the state by recognizing out-of-state licenses as valid. Gov. Doug Ducey has been a vocal supporter of universal licensing recognition, suggesting that a person’s skills don’t diminish when they cross state lines, and the change will allow those who have moved from other states to “work faster and without all the red tape.”

To better understand the role of occupational licensing and what this change would mean for Arizona’s businesses and residents, ASU Now spoke with Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University.

Question: What is occupational licensing? What kinds of jobs in Arizona require a license?

Stephen Slivinski

Answer: Occupational licensing laws — which are state-specific laws that vary by state — require workers in certain occupations to first obtain a license from a government licensing board before they can hold a job in that field. Not all occupations in Arizona require a license, but many do.

The requirements to obtain a license vary by occupation and state, and generally consist of meeting a minimum number of training hours and paying a fee. Some licenses may require a specific degree, like a high school diploma or a college degree, or an apprentice period with an existing license holder. All states license doctors and lawyers, for instance, but not all states require a license for occupations like interior designer or animal breeder (and yes, some states do).

Currently, Arizona ranks as having one of the top five most burdensome licensing requirements in the nation overall, both in the number of occupations that are licensed and the number of training hours required. These burdens hit low-income workers the hardest: Over 65% of low-income occupations in Arizona require a license, and those jobs have some of the heaviest financial and training-based requirements when compared to other states.

Q: What would this bill do?

A: This bill would allow anyone with an existing license from another state — in good standing — to have instant reciprocity with Arizona. In other words, they would receive a “seal of approval” from the state of Arizona once they establish residency in the state, without having to take an Arizona licensing exam or logging the prescribed hours of training.

The bill does allow the state to decline this right of reciprocity for a disqualifying criminal history. Certain occupations would not be granted instant reciprocity, including those that require a security clearance.

Q: Will granting reciprocity weaken the ability of the state to protect consumers?

A: These laws are often justified on the basis that the state has a compelling interest in protecting consumers and citizens from “bad actors” or safeguarding public health. However, there is a consensus among economists and scholars that these requirements often do not line up with the actual risk to public health and safety. Barbers in Arizona, for instance, are required to log over 1,000 hours of training before they receive a license, while emergency medical technicians have to log 110 hours.

Academic studies have also found no significant difference in public health and safety outcomes in states that have higher licensing burdens when compared to those that are closer to the national average.

Q: What are the advantages to reciprocity?

A: The main advantage of license reciprocity is increased competition in licensed service sectors and, therefore, more choices and lower prices for consumers. It also makes Arizona instantly more attractive to workers and entrepreneurs already looking to relocate to Arizona to take advantage of our other competitive advantages, like climate and cost of living.

Studies indicate that interstate mobility — the likelihood that someone will relocate to another state to find work — is greatly reduced when licensing processes are perceived to be burdensome. Moreover, current Arizona residents who have avoided working in a particular field because their license is from another state can now work in a field that previously seemed off-limits. This sort of reform will have benefits to workers and employers as well as consumers.

Q: Do you expect this bill will encourage other states to grant licensing reciprocity? Will this become a trend?

A: I think this change will make Arizona instantly more attractive for workers and employers looking to relocate out of their current state. If this proves to be a compelling reason for people to relocate, it is very likely that other states will follow suit to try to gain a competitive edge. The Arizona reform is the first-of-its-kind in the nation so we will need to wait and see how this all plays out.

Views expressed in this interview belong solely to the professor, and not necessarily to the university.

Katherine Reedy

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Can we make 'X-ray vision' a reality?

April 9, 2019

ASU professor working on sci-fi tech to see through walls using millimeter and terahertz waves

Things it would be great to be able to see through: cargo trucks at ports. Burning homes. Buildings in hostile cities. Coatings on pills. Fog on dusty highways.

Forget X-ray vision; try terahertz wave specs. 

An Arizona State University engineer recently received a prestigious grant to create a way to see hidden objects through walls and to look around corners.

George Trichopoulos envisions a system of a special camera paired with goggles that employ millimeter waves used in airport security as well as higher frequencies (terahertz waves).

“It can see through our clothes,” said Trichopoulos, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Anything you want to see that’s not a direct line of sight, or where you cannot approach closely.”

Terahertz waves are electromagnetic, like the radio waves you listen to, microwaves you cook with, infrared in your remote controls, visible light that you can see, ultraviolet that you get a sunburn from and X-rays that see what’s wrong with you. Terahertz waves fall in the middle of all those, and they're the least-exploited on the spectrum.

In the past 15 years, research into terahertz waves has heated up for applications for communication, sensing, imaging and spectroscopy.

“For imaging this is attractive because these waves can penetrate materials that are not good conductors,” Trichopoulos said. “It can penetrate clothing, wood, plastic, drywall. Cinder block is not so easy because it absorbs (the waves). It cannot penetrate water. Water kills magnetic waves. Because it can penetrate many materials, it allows us to see through packages and clothing, like you see at the airport. It has these interesting properties that has motivated many researchers to make imaging systems that use these waves to see.”

Instead of using the penetrating capabilities of the waves, Trichopoulos’ application will delve into how the waves reflect from surrounding environments.

If you stare at a wall, it does not reflect what’s behind you. But in the terahertz spectrum, many surfaces act like mirrors.

“If a surface is well-polished, like a mirror, we can use it to see in other directions indirectly,” Trichopoulos said. “The interesting thing with these frequencies, most surfaces reflect the signal in only one direction. Everything in these frequencies is behaving as a mirror: the door, the walls, the ceiling, sometimes the floor if it’s not something that’s extremely rough. All these surfaces can operate as a mirror. We can use these surfaces to look around obstacles. We can see inside a room, even if we’re not standing in front of the door. We can use the door as a mirror to see inside.”

It’s easy to picture firefighters using a terahertz wave device to search a building without going inside. But what if they can’t see the whole picture from their angle? Active imaging will take care of that.

Graphic of firefighters using terahertz tech to search buildings

Looking around obstacles will enable rescue or surveillance in areas and buildings where access is limited. Illustration by Tiago Allen

Let’s say your camera has a flashlight, which illuminates the whole scene. It sends out pulses that are signals. Those pulses scatter around in multiple ways and come back to the camera. The camera takes them and creates a 3D image. You get not only the geometry of the shape, but where it is and how far away it is, similar to LIDAR — Light Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges.

Algorithms will control post-processing of the data so users understand where line-of-sight objects and non-line-of-sight objects are. Post-processing will stitch together multiple views to give a clear and complete view.

“It doesn’t make the building transparent, but you get the information of what’s behind the wall,” Trichopoulos said.

He imagines melding the technology with augmented reality. (Along the lines of the AR used in the Pokémon Go craze a couple years back, when people wandered around looking at video game characters through their smartphones.)

“We take the images from the terahertz camera and fuse them inside the (augmented reality) goggles, so when a firefighter is looking through the window he can select the surfaces he wants to turn into mirrors,” he said. “Then, through the goggles, he can project the information onto the real world. He can turn the building into a frame by projecting information into the real world he gets from the terahertz camera.”

Possible applications include nondestructive inspection, quality control for pharmaceutical companies, museums studying paintings, military and search and rescue. “It’s a big area,” Trichopoulos said.

The five-year award is for $500,000, granted by the National Science Foundation. It is an NSF Career Award, the foundation’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Top image: iStock photo

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News