A former Kansas woman’s fight over Arizona licensing regulations served as a catalyst for a pair of occupational licensing laws that are making it easier for people to work in Arizona. Annette Stanley will soon open her second behavioral mental health clinic in Arizona, but the former Kansan says it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the legal team at the Goldwater Institute, a free-market public policy research and litigation organization.

Similar legislative and legal fights for freedom are coming to Kansas, thanks to Kansas Justice Institute, which hired its first attorney in March.

“Kansas Justice Institute exists to protect and educate,” Dave Trabert said. Trabert is president of Kansas Policy Institute, which owns The Sentinel and Kansas Justice Institute. “We represent people who often can’t afford to hire attorneys to defend their constitutional rights against government intrusion, and in doing so, help citizens understand the intended constitutional limits on government.”

Protecting constitutional rights to freedom is KPI’s top priority, something Stanley’s fight in Arizona accomplished with the help of the Goldwater Institute.

Stanley’s fight to practice in Arizona began in 2014, when she and her husband moved there from Kansas. Though the Arizona licensing board said she was clinically competent to practice, the state required behavioral health practitioners to first have many hours of supervision working in a community health center. Kansas’s licensing law had allowed Stanley to own and work in her own practice, provided she had a licensed practitioner supervise her work over a period of time.

“I had done my supervision time. I had earned my license, and (Arizona) was telling me I was clinically competent,” she said. She estimates it would have cost her another $8,000 to jump through the hoops the Arizona licensing board required.

However, until the Arizona legislature passed the Right to Earn a Living Act in 2018, Stanley had no way to challenge the board. Jonathan Riches, an attorney from the Goldwater Institute, agreed to help represent her before Arizona’s licensing board. The Goldwater Institute represented her for free, and Kansas Justice Institute will work with those who may not be able to afford an attorney to fight the government.

“As soon as you bring an attorney to the table, they start taking you seriously,” Stanley said.

Riches challenged the board under protections provided by Arizona’s Right to Earn a Living Act. The law heightened judicial review of occupational regulations that can impair a person’s ability to work in the job of their choice when they move to Arizona from another state.

“That law provides some of the best protections for economic freedom in the country,” Riches said.

Stanley’s fight helped spur Arizona lawmakers to go a step further in allowing licensees from other states to become licensed in Arizona. Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed the nation’s first universal occupational licensing bill. The law will allow people who hold an occupational license from another state to practice in Arizona as long as they are licensed or certified in good standing in the other state and do not have any pending complaints related to their licensing. It will include health care professionals, teachers, accountants and engineers.

The Goldwater Institute helped champion the law’s passage.

“We hope that all those who have safely and productively practiced their profession in another state know they can move here to practice their trade without needless and expensive regulatory barriers,” Riches said. “After all, people don’t forget how to cut hair, or run electrical wire, or sell real estate when they move from one state to Arizona.”

Sam MacRoberts, general counsel for the Kansas Justice Institute

Stanley’s case is the kind of case Sam MacRoberts, general counsel for Kansas Justice Institute, hopes to litigate on behalf of Kansans. MacRoberts grew up in Johnson County and he received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kansas. He has a passion for liberty.

MacRoberts envisions taking on Kansas clients to fight for property rights, school choice, criminal justice reform and the right to earn a living.

“I think our biggest overarching goal is to make sure we are protecting individual liberties and the constitutional rights of all Kansans,” MacRoberts said.

KJI will also take on free speech cases, an area in which MacRoberts has special expertise. As an attorney practicing in Hawaii, he worked on a case in which a newspaper publisher was arrested for filming police conducting traffic stops. When the county prosecuted the publisher, MacRoberts defended him. The case  eventually landed in the Hawaii Supreme Court, where MacRoberts and the newspaper publisher won.

MacRoberts said Kansas Justice Institute will represent the rights of Kansans who are affected by the government.

“Whether that’s the government trying to take someone’s home or the government telling a business owner what they can and cannot say or whether that’s a student group at the university being told they can’t have a certain speaker,” he said.

KJI is a public-interest law firm, and MacRoberts said serving as its general counsel is his dream job.

“I want to make sure we are setting precedent in Kansas that’s going to fundamentally change the way we view people’s rights, and I want to be a part of that,” he said. “I want to make sure we are vigorously fighting for liberty in a way that has a profound impact on future generations.”

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