States control who is allowed to work within their borders, from lawyers to nurses to many other professions. The licensing process often involves an application, some type of character or background check, and a fee. And it takes time, making it more difficult for those who move states to work.

Nurses can work after crossing state lines without applying for a new license in 39 states, which are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact.

Earlier this month, Nevada was considering Assembly Bill 108, which would have enacted the NLC, making it easier for nurses to work in the state. But the bill essentially died when it was not voted out of committee.

Reducing the burden in nurse licensing would disproportionately help women since they make up the majority of nurses. In 2022, men made up only 11.2% of registered nurses, according to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Study.

Yet the Nevada chapter of the National Organization for Women tweeted its opposition to Assembly Bill 108. Along with labor unions, the organization argued that the state should focus on improving working conditions instead of occupational licensing reform to meet the demand for nurses.

These opposition groups could still push for changes in working conditions while also making it easier for women who move into the state to work.

Even Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Sandra Jauregui supported the bill, saying, “Nevada should make it as easy as possible for nurses to come here in our times of need, and also for Nevada nurses to help in other states to meet their own professional and family needs as they arise.”

Nevada NOW’s position, on the contrary, hurts women.

As a military spouse, Courtney Gramm moved with her husband to California, one of the states that is not in the NLC. She was only expected to be in California for 18 months when she moved there. It took her six months to get her license.

“Had I moved to a compact state, I could have started working immediately and avoided paying hundreds of dollars in purely administrative licensing fees,” she said. “More importantly, the hospital that hired me could have had an eager, qualified nurse to help care for patients six months earlier. Compact licensure benefits everyone: nurses, hospitals, and patients.”

Some 22% of jobs required an occupational license in 2021, up from 5% in the 1950s, according to Cato Institute analysis. Americans would benefit from legislators in states across the country reviewing laws on the books and addressing unnecessary occupational licensing requirements. Gramm is just one of the women who would benefit from more states making it easier for licensed nurses to work.

Occupational licensing reform can make a big difference in the lives of women. It is an especially compelling issue since many states, including Nevada, successfully suspended licensing requirements during the pandemic.

NOW and its chapters should look at how licensing reform would help women and then advance the cause. This is the type of issue that women should work on together.