Despite Arkansas legislators’ refusal to reform burdensome occupational licensing laws in 2017, other states have recently decided to give their citizens regulatory relief.
The best example of a state that improved ts occupational licensing environment was Arizona. Arizona passed two measures in March to ensure that its licensing boards aren’t passing anti-competitive licensing laws.
From The Daily Signal:
This past week saw two major reforms for Arizona’s occupational licensing regime, which could kick off a lightening of the regulatory burden in the state.
On March 29, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order requiring all state licensing boards to report on their minimum requirements for obtaining an occupational license. Should those requirements exceed national averages, the order requires that boards justify them in “specific reference to potential harm to individual Arizonans.”
This was followed by an even more sweeping change on March 30, when Ducey signed SB 1437 into law.
Known as the Right to Earn a Living Act, the legislation restricts Arizona’s regulatory boards from issuing regulations which “on their face or in their effect limit in the entry into a profession or trade,” unless they can be shown necessary to the health and safety of Arizonans.
Taken together, these reforms represent a sweeping change to Arizona’s occupational licensing regime, which is considered one of the most burdensome in the nation.
Mississippi lawmakers also passed legislation allowing their Governor to veto anti-competitive rules passed by state licensing boards.
From Reason Magazine:
Legislation passed this week in Jackson gives Gov. Phil Bryant new veto powers over state licensing boards’ regulations. From a legal perspective, that means Mississippi’s regulatory boards would pass an important test created by the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago. Politically, it means the democratically-elected governor would provide at least some accountability and oversight to the boards’ actions—potentially heading off anti-competitive rules before they can disrupt the economy, drive entrepreneurs out of business, or spur costly lawsuits.
Sadly, many Arkansas lawmakers weren’t as enthusiastic about improving Arkansans’ ability to earn an honest living free from government red tape.
State Rep. Richard Womack introduced legislation that would’ve protected the right to earn a living: it would have ensured that a private individual has the right to engage in a lawful occupation without being required to comply with an occupational regulation that imposes a substantial burden on the individual, is not substantially related to the state’s important interest in protecting against present and recognizable harm to public health or safety, and is either unreasonable or more restrictive than is necessary to further the state’s important interest in protecting against present and recognizable harm to the public health or safety.
This legislation is similar to the “Right To Earn A Living Act” passed into law in Arizona. Unfortunately, Womack’s proposal never made it out of the House Public Health, Welfare and Safety committee during the 2017 legislative session.
Another bill introduced by Womack wouldn’t even have changed any of the existing occupational licensing laws in Arkansas. It merely would’ve created a Public Health subcommittee to examine occupational licensing laws.
This legislation failed in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety committee.
So, while other states are taking legislative action to fix their occupational licensing problems, Arkansas lawmakers aren’t even willing to pass a law to examine whether we might have a problem.
According to the Institute for Justice (IJ), Arkansas has the second-most burdensome occupational licensing laws in the nation.
Based on the lack of action taken by the legislature this session, it looks like many Arkansas lawmakers are content with letting our state continue to fall further and further behind on occupational licensing — which is to say, they’re content with preventing Arkansans from doing honest work.