“Sunrise” Study Questions Legitimacy of Occupational Licenses
If occupational licenses are meant to protect consumers, should licenses be created at the behest of lobbyists instead of consumers? And should these licenses get created despite initial reviews that recommend against the creation of a new license?
A new study from the Institute for Justice finds that even though these things shouldn’t be the case, they are. Institute for Justice researchers studied 397 sunshine reviews (reports used by legislators that evaluate the need for new occupational regulations) from 15 states conducted from 1985 to 2017. They found that occupational licensing lobbies have driven the push for 84 percent of sunrise reviews and about 80 percent of these reviews declined to recommend licensing. What’s problematic is that legislators enacted licensing more often than recommended—twice as often as recommended in the reviews. These stats don’t instill confidence that occupational licenses were enacted to protect consumers, as is often claimed.
Missouri doesn’t require sunrise reviews and therefore wasn’t included in this study, but it does make one question whether Missouri’s occupational licenses were created under similar circumstances. Were Missouri’s various occupational licenses truly created to protect consumers? And are they still serving that purpose? We should have the answers to these questions.
A five-year sunset for all occupational licenses would give lawmakers new opportunities to assess the validity and necessity of occupational licenses. These licenses make it harder to get a job, which reduces supply and raises prices for consumers. Through a sunset process, unnecessary regulations (or even unnecessary licenses) that do not serve the purpose of protecting consumers can be identified and eliminated. A sunset provision would go a long way in supporting workers and consumers.