The ice jam of occupational licensing is still breaking

icy river flowing

I discussed not long ago that a 2015 review by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found “only eight instances of the de-licensing of occupations over the past 40 years.”

In recent months, however, there are at least six instances of states de-licensing occupations. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • Arizona: Doug Doucy signed a bill in 2016 to exempt four occupations from licensing requirements.
  • Rhode Island: Gina M. Raimondo eliminated 27 licenses identified by the Office of Regulatory Reform in collaboration with state licensing agencies as part of the 2016 budget.
  • Tennessee: Bill Haslam signed the Right to Earn a Living Act in 2016, which limits entry regulations into an occupation (i.e., licensing) to only those that are legitimately necessary to protect public health, safety, or welfare, and when those objectives could not be met with less burdensome means, including certification, bonding, insurance, inspections, etc.
  • Arizona: In March Gov. Doucy signed State Bill 1437 into law, as Arizona joined Tennessee in passing the Right to Earn a Living Act. Doucy also issued an executive order that all state licensing boards report their minimum requirements and be required to justify any that exceed national averages.
  • Nebraska: In March Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a package of bills that, among other things, let state banks and credit unions opt out of the requirement that officers hold a state bank executive officer license.
  • Mississippi: Last month Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1425, a far-reaching reform of state occupational licensing. The bill puts the governor, secretary of state, and state attorney general in an active supervising role over existing state occupational licensing boards. Going further, the bill creates alternative structures to licensure for professions — private certification, third-party reviews, fraud protection, inspections, bonding, insurance, etc. — that must be proven lacking before seeking to expand into licensure.

From eight in 40 years to six in just the past year! I hope North Carolina can add to this list.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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