Oregon Lawmaker Proposes New Music Therapy Job Regulations

Published April 10, 2015

Oregon state Rep. Julie Parris (R-Tualatin) is proposing a bill that would place music therapists under the control of the state’s Health Licensing Office, a central licensing and regulatory agency overseeing government regulation and licensing of health-related occupations.

Parrish’s bill proposes creating a Board of Music Therapy, chaired by state-licensed music therapists, a licensed professional from a healthcare field other than music therapy, and the director of the Health Licensing Office.

The Board of Music Therapy would set state standards for individuals seeking to practice music therapy in the state, including 1,200 hours of approved clinical training and passing certification examinations.

Barriers to Entry

Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Robert McNamara says occupational licensing laws like the one proposed by Parrish prevent people from becoming entrepreneurs and using their talents to help others.

“Occupational licensing restricts the ability of new entrepreneurs to enter a given field,” McNamara said. “This means that consumers face fewer choices and higher prices, while would-be entrepreneurs face high barriers to entry or are shut out of the market altogether. The burdens of occupational licensing fall particularly hard on people with fewer resources or on older people transitioning into a second career.” 

McNamara says reducing competition is often the true goal of occupational licensing.

“All too often, we see government power used simply to protect insiders from economic competition rather than to protect the public from a genuine threat to health or safety,” McNamara said. “In field after field, we’ve seen licensing boards use their powers to crack down on would-be competitors, instead of protecting the public from any of the dangers that licensing is supposed to address.”

‘Fewer Competitors to Choose From’

Cascade Policy Institute Senior Policy Analyst Steve Buckstein says Oregon has more occupational licensing laws than most states.

“Fifty-nine occupations are regulated in Oregon, more than the average state,” Buckstein said. “The impact has been to keep new entrants out of those occupations, which tends to raise prices to consumers as they have fewer competitors to choose from. It also keeps people from practicing the profession of their choice, which harms those individuals economically.”

Alternatives to State Licensing

Buckstein says allowing industries to self-regulate would protect consumers better than new regulations and regulatory boards.

“Some free-market alternatives to licensure include voluntary certification through professional associations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence’s certification for auto mechanics,” Buckstein said. “These provide valuable information to consumers without overly restricting entry into the profession.”

Nongovernmental organizations can help consumers make better decisions without using government regulations or state agencies.

“Also, third-party consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, and … online sites like Angie’s List let consumers gain real-time information about specific practitioners and share positive and negative comments with other consumers more quickly than government licensing boards can, all without competition-restricting government licensing requirements,” Buckstein said.

Matt Hurley ([email protected]) writes from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Internet Info:

Morris M. Kleiner and Robert T. Kudrie, “Do Tougher Licensing Provisions Limit Occupational Entry? The Case of Dentistry,” National Bureau of Economic Research: https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/do-tougher-licensing-provisions-limit-occupational-entry-case-dentistry/