Let’s Sunset Occupational Licenses
As this Wall Street Journal article points out, the COVID-19 pandemic shines a new light on occupational licensing requirements At a time when unemployment is still higher than before the pandemic and job openings are plentiful, do we really want unnecessary licensing requirements getting in the way of people getting back to work?
Occupational licensing adds educational requirements, fees, and other hurdles that make it harder to get a job. We see onerous requirements negatively affecting workers across the country, such as hair braiders in Louisiana (highlighted in the Journal article) who need 500 hours of training to receive a full cosmetologists license to exclusively braid hair. Lawmakers at the federal level have expressed a desire to increase competition in the workforce by reining in occupational licensing, but it is state lawmakers and licensing boards that set the standards and regulations.
Missouri lawmakers took a big step forward with occupational licensing reciprocity, but there is still more that could be done. One policy that I believe would prove beneficial for Missouri workers: Lawmakers should introduce a five-year sunset for all occupational licenses and licensing boards. With a sunset, all licenses and boards must be evaluated and approved by lawmakers every five years. The hope is that unnecessary regulations, and maybe even unnecessary licenses, will be identified and eliminated. Reducing the burden of occupational licensing will create opportunities for workers and consumers, lower prices, and increase economic growth.