February 5, 2016

Policymakers considering occupational licensing changes?

By Caleb R. Trotter Attorney

This week, two different committees of legislative policymakers met to discuss the impact of occupational licensing on entrepreneurs and the economy. On Tuesday, the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights took up the issue, and yesterday in Sacramento, the Little Hoover Commission heard testimony in preparation for its in-progress study on occupational licensing to be presented to the California Legislature.

I attended yesterday’s hearing and was pleased with the general tone of the meeting. Dr. Morris Kleiner, a well-known economist and author of numerous illuminating works on occupational licensing, and Dr. Dick Carpenter, a co-author of the recent study, License to Work, presented strong testimony outlining the inefficient, burdensome, and often irrational barriers imposed on people simply trying to exercise their right to earn a living. Also present was Robert Fellmeth, who discussed the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision last year in North Carolina Dental Examiners v. FTC that held state regulatory boards primarily comprised of industry members do not enjoy antitrust immunity when engaged in anti-competitive actions. PLF filed a brief in that case (read more here).

Refreshingly, the commissioners’ questions and comments revealed a near consensus view that California has too many license requirements, and that even some of the arguably desirable licenses could stand to be less restrictive and difficult to obtain. Combine that with the Governor’s recent veto message of a proposed music therapy title regulation and one could argue that a tide may be turning on the issue in California.

Nevertheless, even though the Little Hoover Commission has no lawmaking authority, and functions in only an advisory role to the legislature, proponents of licensure were still in attendance. It is no surprise that anywhere the cartels sense a threat to their enjoyment of economic protectionism they will be present to defend the status quo.

And that is why PLF will continue to protect the right to earn a living throughout America. Whether it’s presenting testimony to lawmakers or suing overreaching bureaucrats, PLF will be there to keep the government accountable to the Constitution.

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