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Examining the Right to Earn a Living Act, epilogue

The final section of the Right to Earn a Living Act addresses local licensing laws. Many local governments have their own occupational licensing laws or equivalent regulations that function as entry regulations or public service restrictions. If over 1,100 different professions have fallen under licensing in at least one of the 50 states, imagine how many jobs could face licensing in at least one of the thousands of local governments?

Here are a very few examples of local entry regulations: tour guides, window washers, sidewalk shovelers, furniture movers, mechanics, interior decorators, florists, photographers, outhouse cleaners, even panhandlers.

Here are a few examples of local public service restrictions: waste management services, taxicab services, bed and breakfast services, and cable and broadband services.

Remember what the primary finding of the Right to Earn a Living Act is:

The right of individuals to pursue a chosen business or profession, free from arbitrary or excessive government interference, is a fundamental civil right.

That’s a finding well in keeping with the North Carolina State Constitution, which holds that a people’s right to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor” is an inalienable right.

It would not do, therefore, to leave the protection of this right incomplete. So the act would make sure this fundamental, inalienable civil right is protected consistently across all levels of government in the state:

Section 9. {State preemption of inconsistent local laws}

(A) The right of individuals to pursue a chosen business or profession is a matter of statewide concern and is not subject to further inconsistent regulation by a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state. This article preempts all inconsistent rules, regulations, codes, ordinances and other laws adopted by a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state regarding the right of individuals to pursue a chosen business or profession.

This section would be a light lift in North Carolina. The state constitution makes it clear that local governments are creations of the General Assembly. Their authority and powers flow from the legislature. Under Article VII, Local Government, the state constitution provides that

Section 1. General Assembly to provide for local government.

The General Assembly shall provide for the organization and government and the fixing of boundaries of counties, cities and towns, and other governmental subdivisions, and, except as otherwise prohibited by this Constitution, may give such powers and duties to counties, cities and towns, and other governmental subdivisions as it may deem advisable.

Conclusion

The Right to Earn a Living Act starts with recognizing the fundamental, inalienable civil right of its title. It then purposes to provide the means in law for people to vindicate that right. Finally, it seeks to ensure that when governments move to regulate entry into professions or service areas, it’s a move of last resort, it’s demonstrably necessary, and it’s carefully tailored to achieve legitimate health, safety, and welfare objectives.

As illustrated above, North Carolina is already constitutionally inclined to those principles. North Carolina’s burdensome, often arbitrary licensing regime is in direct conflict with them, however. A well-considered, principled approach to reform such as the Right to Earn a Living Act is a clear need in North Carolina.


Posts examining the Right to Earn a Living Act:

Part 1: A fundamental civil right
Part 2: A well-known path up from poverty
Part 3: Legitimate vs. arbitrary regulation
Part 4: Fewer jobs, higher prices
Part 5: Greater burden for poor workers and consumers
Part 6: Three main objectives
Part 7: Defining the terms
Part 8: A very high bar
Part 9: Defending the decision to license
Part 10: Challenging the decision to license
Epilogue: Securing rights on the local level, too

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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