Red Tape - Testimony
Testimony: Occupational Licensing In Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Fewer licensing regulations means that goods and services are cheaper for consumers, and fewer job seekers have to ask the government’s permission before working in the occupations of their choosing. Missouri, nonetheless, has plenty of examples of unnecessary licenses at the state and local levels.

 
Electrician Licensing In Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Would it surprise you to know that areas with more stringent electrician licensing actually have higher rates of electrocutions? It is true. Economists Sidney Carroll and Robert Gaston documented it in a very thorough study.1 While that finding may surprise you, the reasoning is fairly simply. Licensing increases costs. Higher costs lead to more do-it-yourself work, and that leads to more accidents. States with stricter dental licensing laws have a higher incidence of poor dental hygiene for the same basic reason.2 Similar, though perhaps less drastic, effects can be found in many other licensed occupations.

In occupational licensing, the government, usually in combination with a board or commission it establishes, sets standards and requirements as to who can practice a certain occupation. These standards can take the form of educational requirements, training hours, practice standards, continuing education classes, work documentation, background checks, etc. Licensure usually adds significant costs to becoming a member of the occupation, which is generally the whole point of it from the perspective of current practitioners who are grandfathered in when licensing is enacted.

 
Kansas City Charter Changes Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Friday, July 12, 2013

In 2010, Kansas City’s The Pitch newspaper documented how one council district’s at-large member wanted to spend more than $1 million acquiring new park land within the district even though (according to the Pitch) the city was having trouble maintaining its existing parks. The purpose here is not to criticize a councilmember for representing constituents. My purpose is simply to note that it is an excellent example of an “at-large” councilmember acting in the interest of an assigned “district.” There may, or may not, be anything wrong with that, but it certainly defeats the purpose of “at-large” elections in the first place.

 
Saint Louis County Should Not Penalize Photographers Print E-mail
By Kacie Barnes   
Monday, June 17, 2013

In April, Saint Louis photographers were alarmed to find a sign posted in a county park banning professional photography without a permit. The sign was removed soon after complaints began. County officials stated that the policy would be under review, and a rule change requiring a permit may go into effect.

Saint Louis County should not enforce a permit fee for photographers to use county parks. Photographers who most commonly use the parks are family photographers, spending a short amount of time snapping photos of engaged couples, new babies, newlyweds, and families. They are not setting up an elaborate photo shoot with props and equipment that damage the grass and require extensive set-up and take-down. These photographers do not impose a higher cost to the county than other parkgoers and already contribute taxes to use the parks as area residents and business owners.

 
Dock Regulations In The Ozarks Should Be Done Without Favoritism Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Monday, June 17, 2013

It is hard to imagine a more terrible death than being electrocuted while drowning. Last summer, three people were electrocuted while swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks due to faulty electrical systems on docks. A child in Tennessee also was killed in the same manner. In response to these tragedies, there have been calls to institute and expand dock electrical inspection programs in Missouri. I think that dock inspections should be expanded in Missouri, particularly in tourist areas such as Lake of the Ozarks. However, it is imperative to establish the program in a manner that does not allow it to become a monopoly for a select group of inspectors.

 
Missouri Should Lower Barriers for Out-of-State Charitable Medical Missions Print E-mail
By Patrick Ishmael   
Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Licensing laws are typically seen as a way to ensure that members of a profession are well-trained and, thus, their customers well-served and protected. But could overly restrictive licensing rules actually be bad for customers’ health? There is reason to believe so; restrictive and ambiguous Missouri licensing requirements in health care have kept, and are keeping, some charitable medical groups from providing free medical care to the needy.

 
In Support of Workers' Free Speech Rights Print E-mail
By Patrick Ishmael   
Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Last year, I wrote about an important free speech case that the U.S. Supreme Court had just handed down. Knox v. Service Employees International Union dealt with the manner in which unions could automatically deduct dues from public employee salaries and apply those dollars toward the union’s political purposes. Knox dealt with a narrow fact pattern, so extrapolations of the Court’s findings to future fact patterns will not be perfect, especially given the status of the case law. Yet the substantive question addressed in the Court’s opinion I think really boils down to this: should the burden be on a public employee to opt-out of an automatic salary deduction program whose proceeds could fund a union’s political activities? Or should the burden be on the union to get employees to opt-in? Are these “free speech dollars” taken from the employee’s paycheck presumptively the employee’s, or presumptively the union’s?

 
Limitations on Distributor Ownership Are Unnecessary Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The primary justification for government regulation of the economy is to address a market failure. As the argument goes, the smelter bears no direct costs by polluting the air, so it is necessary for the government to come in and regulate the activity. With that in mind, I am at a loss to see the market failure that these proposed new regulations in Senate Bill 412 would address. We can all agree that there should be some government regulation of the alcohol industry: age limits, driving-while-intoxicated laws, basic liquor licenses, and more. However, I think that preventing a producer from having even a small interest in a distributor goes way too far, as do the rest of these proposed legislative changes. Producers should be able to have the same freedom to get their product in front of final consumers as any other business.

 
Licensing Modular Unit Installers in Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There are few absolute truths in life, but we do have some: death, taxes, gravity. If demand for a good increases and supply remains the same, the price will increase. And, — most germane to this committee meeting — attempts to license certain occupations will be initiated by the current practitioners of that field. Missouri has fewer of these occupational licensing requirements than other states, and we should be proud of that. This is significant, because fewer licensing regulations means that goods and services are cheaper for consumers, and fewer job seekers have to ask the government’s permission before working in the occupations of their choosing. Missouri, nonetheless, has plenty of examples of unnecessary licenses at the state and local levels.

 
Restructuring Hearing Instrument Specialist Requirements Would Benefit Missouri Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, March 06, 2013

One of the methods by which current practitioners and their respective licensing boards limit competition within their field is through overly burdensome educational requirements. Some common-sense changes to licensing rules can reduce the burdens of the educational requirement in a way that will benefit consumers. House Bill 448, which modifies the requirements for hearing instrument specialists, makes some of those beneficial changes.

Even supporters of strict licensing must acknowledge the simple fact that tighter licensing rules increase prices. If there are fewer electricians, dentists, and plumbers in an area due to licensing rules, it will cost, on average, more to hire a member of that trade.

 
Saint Louis Public Administrator Should Be Appointed Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The question in the proposed change is whether or not the public administrator of the City of Saint Louis should be appointed instead of elected, as is the current case. In my opinion, the citizens of Saint Louis would be well-served if the public administrator is an appointed position.

 
Occupational Licensing - The House Professional Registration And Licensing Committee Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There are few absolute truths in life, but we do have some: death, taxes, gravity. If demand for a good increases and supply remains the same, the price will increase. And, — most germane to this committee meeting — attempts to license certain occupations will be initiated by the current practitioners of that field. Missouri has fewer of these occupational licensing requirements than other states, and we should be proud of that. This is significant, because fewer licensing regulations means that goods and services are cheaper for consumers, and fewer job seekers have to ask the government’s permission before working in the occupations of their choosing. Missouri, nonetheless, has plenty of examples of unnecessary licenses at the state and local levels.

 
A Clear Vision of the Eye Exam Mandate Print E-mail
By Patrick Ishmael   
Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Before this body is a proposal that would renew a state mandate requiring optometrist or physician eye exams for incoming kindergartners in Missouri’s public schools (Senate Bill 641). The mandate places both a legal and financial burden on Missouri families that only two other states in the country place on their citizens. There are several troubling aspects of the proposal.

 
Licensing Home Inspectors Will Not Benefit Missourians Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Monday, February 13, 2012

There are few absolute truths in life, but we do have some. Death, taxes, gravity. If demand increases and supply remains the same, price will increase. The St. Louis Cardinals team will contend for the pennant. And, — most germane to this committee meeting — current practitioners of certain fields will initiate attempts to license their occupations.

 
Legislators Should Seriously Consider the Failings of the Saint Louis Land Bank before Creating a Kansas City Land Bank Print E-mail
By Audrey Spalding   
Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Saint Louis, the city where I live and work, is home to the oldest land bank in the United States. The Saint Louis land bank, also known as the Land Reutilization Authority, has been in existence for more than four decades. It owns more than 10,000 parcels, making it the largest land holder in the City of Saint Louis. I hope that you consider its track record before creating a similar entity in Kansas City.

 
As Government Expands, Liberty Contracts Print E-mail
By Christine Harbin   
Thursday, February 17, 2011

In their own lives, individuals regularly make the tough choices to eat less and exercise in order to achieve better health. The state government can do the same. Policymakers in Missouri can make those same hard decisions to outsource, privatize, consolidate, or share services in order to perform key public services at as low a cost as possible. H.J.R. 11 would encourage Missouri’s state government to conduct a top-down, bottom-up review of all state agencies and regulations to eliminate waste, inefficiency, and government intrusion unrelated to essential services.

 
Testimony Before the Saint Louis County Council Regarding the New Licensing Requirements Included in the Mechanical Code Update Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

David Stokes, a policy analyst with the Show-Me Institute, testifies before the Saint Louis County Council Committee of the Whole in opposition to new licensing requirements for HVAC contractors and workers in Saint Louis County. Stokes discusses how licensing rules like those proposed in this code amendment are used to limit competition and increase costs for consumers.

 
Testimony Submitted to Kansas City on Changes to the City’s Licensing Codes Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Friday, November 06, 2009

Kansas City officials deserve credit for wanting to update and revamp the city's business and occupational licensing system. Economic activity benefits the city whenever it occurs, whether directly or indirectly. Many of the changes proposed here will positively benefit Kansas City's economy by simplifying many parts of the system.

 
Testimony Before the City Council of Clayton, Mo. Print E-mail
By Dave Roland   
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One of the reasons that America has long been known as the “land of opportunity” is that its citizens are understood to have the freedom to make decisions for themselves. Rather than having their lives dictated to them, as is the case in so many nations across the world, Americans engage in the pursuit of happiness by cultivating an extremely broad array of tastes and interests. For many, this includes the choice to smoke.

 
General Guidelines for Charter Governments: Testimony Before the Jefferson County Charter Commission Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

David Stokes, a Show-Me Institute policy analyst, makes recommendations for provisions that should be included in the proposed Jefferson County charter.

 
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