Licensing? Certification? Consumer choice?

My latest research brief looks at Senate Bill 527, which would allow reflexologists to practice in North Carolina without a license, if they’re certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board.

It’s a good start. Reflexology doesn’t even appear on the NC Commerce Dept.’s list of 181 “Occupations Requiring a License in North Carolina.” But reflexology still falls within the broad scope of practice defended by the Massage and Bodywork Therapy licensing board, so reflexologists currently can’t practice in North Carolina without a massage and bodywork therapy license.

Basically, there’s no need to hamstring a speciality because of a turf war with a licensing board. That’s what teeth whiteners faced and what hair braiders still face. And goodness, who knows how many others there are?

So it’s a good idea to give reflexologists freedom from licensing. But why stop at requiring certification?

Voluntary certification

Voluntary certification would address the bill’s concern as well as balance the public’s interest in finding qualified, trustworthy service professionals with the state’s interest in protecting competition and individuals’ right to earn a living.

For details, see my report on voluntary certification, but here’s a handy chart explaining the differences:

certification vs licensing

Consumer Choice

Going further, there’s a way to allow voluntary certification even in licensed professions, if you add full disclosure to it. Last summer legislators in Texas were presented with model legislation called the “Occupational Licensing Consumer Choice Act.”

In October, New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez incorporated that reform into a sweeping occupational licensing reform Executive Order.

Under its provisions, service professionals in a field licensed within the state would retain their right to earn a living even without an occupational license by providing consumers with a non-license disclosure prior to agreeing to do work. Consumers could then knowingly choose someone whose professional credentials in a state-licensed profession would include other things, including another state’s license, but not a state license.

See an earlier research brief for more discussion of occupational licensing consumer choice.

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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