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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich announces major changes to help more than 1 million professionals in Illinois get their licenses faster
Applications that currently take 4-19 weeks for processing will be processed within 1-4 weeks

SPRINGFIELD–Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced major changes intended to help more than one million professionals get or renew their licenses in less time.  Currently, it takes 4-19 weeks to process an application for a license.  The Governor’s initiative would reduce that time to 1-4 weeks – a reduction of more than 400%. 
 
The Governor’s licensing reform initiative will help doctors, nurses, realtors, real estate brokers, barbers, beauticians and almost 200 other professions licensed by the State of Illinois. More than one million people hold professional licenses with the State of Illinois. The initiative will be highlighted by the Governor in next week’s Budget Address.
 
“Just because it has always taken months to process applications doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.  If we can tear down the tollbooths, give every child access to health insurance, and eliminate record budget deficits without raising taxes, we can cut the time it takes to process licenses,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
 
To do this, the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is installing a new system to capture applicant data for all licenses quickly and accurately. The department will also streamline the applications, reducing the time it takes a professional to fill it out and review it.
Once the process is automated and streamlined, IDFPR will augment its current staff with 29 new employees to ensure completed applications are processed in one month or less.  This initiative is expected to cost $1.6 million annually, funding for the initial year will be included in the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget. 
 
The licensing reform initiative will significantly help professionals in Illinois with their licensing applications by:
 
  • Expediting the delivery of notices for an incomplete application by using email and fax instead of regular mail.
 
  • Encouraging licensees to use the faster online renewal system. Postcards asking professionals to renew their licenses online will be mailed instead of paper applications.
 
  • Allowing applicants to check the status of license applications online.
 
  • Eliminating the superfluous “work history form” from license applications.
 
  • Requiring applicants to submit one complete application upfront instead of waiting for institutions to submit necessary documentation.
 
  • Converting all initial application forms to an online format by May 2007.
 
The licensing reform initiative is part of the Governor’s Regulatory Reform initiative announced during his 2005 State of the State address, and part of his larger effort to make it easier to do business in Illinois.
 
The Governor’s actions since 2003 to cut red tape, streamline regulations, and make it easier to do business in Illinois include:
 
  • A landmark workers’ compensation reform, the first in the state in twenty years. The reform, aimed at reducing business costs, increasing benefits and fighting fraud, includes the implementation of a medical fee schedule to contain costs, which would save Illinois businesses millions of dollars annually; a workers’ compensation fraud unit that will investigate charges of fraud, and will investigate reporting of fraudulent claims by employees; and the creation of a third panel of the Workers’ Compensation Commission to expedite the resolution of disputed claims.
 
·        Working with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to bring together small businesses and negotiate better small business health insurance rates and reduce administrative expenses.
 
·        Launching the Illinois Business Portal (www.business.illinois.gov). To date, the Web site has been visited by over 150,000 unique visitors, an average of 20,000 a month. The Portal gives businesses useful information on how to start a business, find forms, and find the agency they need to talk to, and provides easy to find information on taxes, mandatory posters and small business resources.
 
·        Streamlined processes for nurses looking to obtain licenses in Illinois including eliminating the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nurses Schools (CGFN) test from the licensing requirements, making name change forms easier to find online, and streamlining the fingerprinting process.
 
·        Clarified rules regarding exempt vs. non-exempt status of Illinois employees. In July, the Illinois Department of Labor put a chart on its website that clearly explained exempt and non-exempt status using both state and federal guidelines. Increased clarity on this issue reduced the need for consultants and lawyers, saving companies money.
 
·        An automated the Capital Development Board’s process to return retainage funds to contractors. This allows contractors to obtain their money quicker and easier.
 
·        Eliminating unneeded information from applications that now allows the Capital Development Board to speed payments to contractors.
 
·        Converting state business forms from paper to an online format. Now businesses can file taxes and use most of the Department of Revenue’s forms online. Over 1,400 other forms from 15 state agencies are in the process of being converted to online formats.
 
·        Removing a requirement that U.S. trained doctors supply a Latin/English translation for their medical school diploma. This increased efficiency for IDFPR’s Division of Professional Regulation and prevented delays for physicians looking to receive their licenses.
 
·        Reducing and clarifying paperwork for businesses. For example, the Initiative recently improved the Employer Training Investment Program grant application by following suggestions from Illinois businesses. These changes will save companies time by making the application easier to use.
 
Creating a website that helps employers file taxes for their household employees online, and signing into law a bill that allows them to file these taxes annually instead of quarterly.


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