In 2016, a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down a North Carolina occupational licensing regulation that required a person be a licensed dentist to provide teeth-whitening services. This decision will likely have a ripple effect on other states’ occupational licensing programs.
Despite the court’s ruling, in North Carolina, licensing boards continue to regulate acupuncturists, alarm-systems professionals, athletic trainers, clinical perfusionists, foresters, laser-hair practitioners, employee-assistance professionals, irrigation contractors, interpreters, locksmiths, pastoral counselors, public librarians, and recreational therapists, among others.
Reut Rory Cohen, a contributing writer at Carolina Journal, explains in a recent article how occupational licensing works in the state. “Occupational licensing requirements require workers seeking to enter an occupation to pass industry-authorized tests, certify the completion of coursework from authorized providers, perform a number of hours of work as an apprentice, or some combination of the three,” wrote Cohen.
In a 2016 Reason Foundation article, Contributing Editor J.D. Tuccille argues occupational licensing reform is a massive problem that has become a bipartisan issue in many states. “That one-quarter of Americans require government permission to do their jobs has become such a problem for economic liberty and opportunity in this country that its recognition crosses party lines at a time when Republicans and Democrats agree on little else,” wrote Tuccille. “More importantly, efforts to actually correct the situation also transcend partisanship. Having purchased political support by imposing licensing laws that protect existing practitioners in a host of industries from competition, politicians seem to be realizing that they went way overboard and are killing the host on which they feed.”
Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Heartland’s Budget & Tax News, argued in a recent article published by The Hill occupational licensing rules have little effect on public health or safety. “In other words, government permission slips don’t really protect people from receiving bad customer service,” wrote Hathaway. “So, if occupational licensing rules aren’t about protecting consumers, who do they protect? In 1952, fewer than 5 percent of all workers were required to obtain government permission to work in their chosen profession. In 2008, the government’s use of occupational licensing had expanded to ensnare about 29 percent of all workers.”
By eliminating these perverse policies, lawmakers can help people achieve their dreams, lower costs for consumers, and get more people back to work and out of entitlement programs. That’s a win for everybody.
What We’re Working On
Budget & Tax
Roadmap for the 21st Century: Rightsizing Government: Reduce Spending and Restore Growth
This Roadmap paper, the 10th and final in the Roadmap for the 21st Century series by Peter Ferrara and Lewis Uhler, discusses the need to reduce spending and restore economic growth by “rightsizing” the national government. “Up to a point, every dollar spent … adds more than a dollar to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by facilitating and protecting commerce and investment. … Government spending more than this optimal level detracts from economic growth and general prosperity,” wrote Ferrara and Uhler. Read more
Research & Commentary: Universal ESAs Would Make West Virginia a National Leader in Education Choice
West Virginia is currently considering a proposal that would establish a universal education savings account (ESA) program. If passed, ESAs would be available to parents of public school children to pay for tuition and fees at private and parochial schools. The funds could also be used to pay for textbooks, tutoring services, transportation costs, computers and other approved hardware, online courses, dual-enrollment courses, and educational therapies and services. Additionally, the ESAs could be used to cover the fees required to take national standardized achievement tests, such as the SAT or ACT, or to pay for tuition and fees at a technical college. In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson wrote, “Establishing a universal ESA program would put the Mountain State at the forefront of the education choice movement and would give all Georgia families a greater opportunity to meet each child’s unique education needs. When parents are given the opportunity to choose, every school must compete and improve, which gives more children the opportunity to attend a quality school.” Read more
Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Banning Fracking in Florida Would Be a Mistake
Proposals have been introduced in the Florida Legislature that would permanently ban hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” in the Sunshine State. Opposition to fracking in Florida stems partly from environmental concerns over the possibility the process could contaminate the Everglades National Park or groundwater in the Floridan or Biscayne aquifers, which provide drinking water to most of the state’s population. In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes enacting a permanent ban on fracking in Florida would be a costly mistake because the existing peer-reviewed evidence shows hydraulic fracturing processes do not pose a systemic impact on groundwater. Federal, state, and local governments have tested thousands of sites for hydraulic fracturing pollution of groundwater and drinking water resources, and “drilling is currently being conducted in Florida in a safe and responsible manner,” wrote Benson. Read more
Heartland Daily Podcast: Hal Scherz: Repeal Obamacare and CON Laws, Protect Direct Primary Care
While most eyes are now looking to Washington, DC regarding the fate of the Affordable Care Act, there are steps state legislators can take to improve the cost and availability of health care in their states. In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Hal Scherz, founder and secretary of the Docs4PatientCare Foundation and host of The Doctor’s Lounge radio show, joined Health Care News Managing Editor Michael Hamilton in this episode of the Heartland Daily Podcast to make the case for state lawmakers preempting federal government health care reforms. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
The Liberty Leadership Council Announced!
Are you or someone you know interested in joining a networking group that educates young professionals on current Texas policy issues and fosters meaningful relationships within your city? If so, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Liberty Leadership Council might be for you! The Liberty Leadership Council (LLC) was launched in 2016 in Austin, Houston, and Midland with the goal of equipping and empowering young people to advance principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise. If you are interested in learning more about LLC, please sign up here.