PLF supports repeal of unnecessary occupational licensing laws in California

April 20, 2017 | By LARRY SALZMAN

PLF’s Economic Liberty Project litigates to advance every individual’s right to pursue the occupation of his or her calling free of unnecessary governmental interference. Occupational licensing laws are a major way in which the government interferes in the market to give an advantage to some people at the expense of others.

California Senate Bill 247, introduced by Senator John Moorlach (R – 37th District) and sponsored by PLF eliminates or reduces unduly burdensome licensing requirements for ordinary occupations, including locksmiths, custom upholsterers, and tree trimmers. It also prohibits local governments from adding new occupational licensing requirements. The bill focuses on jobs that do not pose a significant risk to public health or safety.

A hearing on the bill will be held on Monday, April 24, before the Senate Business and Professions and Economic Development Committee. The hearing is anticipated to begin at 11:30 a.m. in Room 3191 at the State Capitol.

Occupational licensing laws are regulations requiring individuals to get government approval before they can work. Some, like the licensing of doctors, are motivated by concerns about health or safety. But since the 1950s there’s been an explosion of new licensing laws, stifling the aspirations of individuals who are merely seeking to work in ordinary occupations. These laws are often the result of industry insiders who lobby the legislature to create barriers to entry to their fields, thereby protecting the insiders from competition (i.e., cronyism).

The proposed SB 247 addresses that problem and follows a recent trend: about a half dozen states have recently enacted similar legislation—and there are  occupational licensing reform bills pending in 14 additional states. The legislative movement to repeal unnecessary occupational licensing laws has been bi-partisan and gotten support even from federal and state governmental agencies.

In 2015, the White House under President Obama called on states to reconsider occupational licenses that were aimed more at protecting industry insiders from competition than public health and safety. More recently, California’s Little Hoover Commission, a government agency tasked with studying regulations and making recommendations to the legislature, called for a review of occupational licensing laws in California. The Federal Trade Commission under President Trump has also encouraged states to reform unnecessarily burdensome licensing laws.