Shapiro is initiating a review to reduce red tape in the Pa. Professional licensing process

In hopes of eliminating bureaucracy for Pennsylvania professionals, Gov. Josh Shapiro initiated a review to make recommendations to improve the state licensing process by establishing standard response times and implementing accountability measures when agencies fail to meet those deadlines.

Shapiro, a Democrat, signed one supreme command On Tuesday, all state agencies, boards and commissioners were ordered to create a catalog of the licenses, certificates and permits they issue.

The list, which must be sent to the governor’s office within 90 days, should also include the statutory powers governing the time applications must be processed and the fees. The information will help set new expectations and timelines for the licensing process, Shapiro said during a public signing ceremony.

And if an agency doesn’t respond to an applicant in a timely manner, they must refund the application fee.

“You will get your money back,” Shapiro said. “The first priority of state government should be to serve the good people of our Commonwealwealth and we put our money where our mouth is.”

The executive order also directs the Office of the Governor to review the existing digital services used by Pennsylvanians to apply for licenses, certificates and permits, ultimately working to modernize the platforms used by professionals such as teachers, nurses, Stylists, hairdressers, accountants, undertakers, veterinarians and car dealers are used.

West Philadelphia-based hairstylist Darryl Thomas said the executive order made Shapiro deliver on a campaign promise, saying that those in power should be able to identify problems and fix them. He added that the administration is helping to give business owners and professionals the tools to thrive and provide for their families by setting clear guidelines.

Elizabeth Strong, an Allentown-based esthetician and business owner, described the challenges she faced moving her salon in 2014, and outlined how delays and lost files left her career “in limbo.”

With the help of her state representative, she paid her registration fee and arranged an inspection, which successfully opened at her new location.

“But these things shouldn’t be happening,” she said. “These are big dreams. That’s human lives on the lines, where. And we’re kind of at the mercy of our state licensing.”

The implementing regulation does not deal with staff shortages; However, Maureen May, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, noted that this could lower the barriers to admission for graduates who have accepted a job after graduation but have to wait to receive their license from the state.

“This is certainly an important step in the right direction,” said May.

Acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt said the State Department’s Office of Career and Occupational Affairs administers 29 boards and commissions that have issued more than 130 different licenses to Pennsylvania professionals and entities. Each year, he said, the bureau processes more than 80,000 new license applications and more than 375,000 license renewals.

“This administration is making the people of Pennsylvania and customer service our number one priority,” Schmidt said. “People shouldn’t have to endure long waits to put their skills and knowledge to good use. Together with the Office of the Governor, we will work to ensure that Pennsylvanians can get to work on time without bureaucracy holding them back.”