This year’s Arizona legislative session has come to an end, but not without the passage of Goldwater Institute bills that will improve the lives of all Arizonans, including increasing transparency in occupational licensing process, expanding access to dental care, and making it easier for people to work in the job of their choice. 

Governor Doug Ducey has signed the following three bills:

• Increased transparency in occupational licensing boards: Arizona’s occupational licensing boards wield great power over people’s ability to work, but much of their work has been obscured from the public. In a win for greater transparency in the occupational licensing process, House Bill 2649, sponsored by Representative Travis Grantham, requires each board to make digital recordings of its public meetings and make them publicly available within five days of the meeting. These recordings, as well as all final agency orders, must then remain available to the public for at least three years. Because of this new law, which passed with strong bipartisan support, the public will have increased access and oversight by the general public to these powerful boards.

• Expanded access to dental care: Of Arizona’s 7 million residents, 2.4 million are living in “dental health professional shortage areas” with one or fewer dentists per 5,000 people. But with the signing of Senate Bill 2235, sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto, the state now allows for the licensing of mid-level dental practitioners—known as “dental therapists”—who provide many of the same services that dentists can, including preventative examinations and less complicated dental extractions. Allowing dental therapy services to be performed by educated and trained dental therapists creates greater access to safe and affordable dental care throughout Arizona. The Goldwater Institute partnered with a bipartisan coalition including Tohono O’odham Nation, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, For McDowell Yavapai Nation, Chicanos Por La Casa, HualaPai Tribe, Arizona Rural Health Coalition, Cocopah Indian Tribe, and many more to help address the dental care crisis in rural Arizona.

• Reducing occupational licensing barriers for those who need it most: Senate Bill 1273, sponsored by Senator Warren Petersen, makes it easier for Arizonans to work in the job of their choice. In Arizona, the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) has the authority to review, approve, disapprove, or set aside rules made by state regulatory agencies. However, that oversight is limited only to rules submitted to GRRC by the agencies themselves—meaning that average Arizonans affected by occupational licensing laws did not have a way to challenge onerous regulations that prevent them from working. This has hit low-income Arizonans particularly hard, who often lack the resources to navigate complex regulatory regimes. But with the signing of SB 1273—also passing with bipartisan support—any person is now able to petition GRRC to review occupational regulations that affect professions with an average salary that is 200 percent or below the federal poverty guidelines. If GRRC finds that the regulation is unduly burdensome or does not advance a health or safety objective, GRRC can change or set aside the rule. 

“The passage of these Goldwater bills at the end of the legislative session is great news for all Arizonans,” Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches said. “While these laws will improve people’s daily lives in differing ways, they share some important characteristics: They help create a system in which there is more fairness, more transparency, more accountability, and more freedom.”