Issa bill takes on onerous occupational licensing requirements

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) recently introduced a bicameral bill that would give states leeway to cut red tape by implementing occupational licensing reforms designed to protect consumers and prospective professionals.

“Today, roughly one in three American workers is required to obtain some sort of occupational license, often requiring hundreds in fees and months in training just to earn a living,” Issa said. “While many licenses are to ensure safety, these requirements are often for jobs no more risky than braiding hair, pet-sitting or flower arranging.”

The Restoring Board Immunity Act would establish a limited antitrust exemption to incentivize states to reform occupational regulations that can create barriers to employment and add to consumer costs. States could establish a state office of supervision of occupational boards to oversee occupational boards’ activities, or use a cause of action under state law to trigger judicial review of licensing laws under an intermediate scrutiny standard.

The U.S. Supreme Court found in the 2014 case North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners vs. Federal Trade Commission that antitrust laws could be applied to state occupational licensing boards. That’s created uncertainty about the liability of self-interested boards, and varied responses from states.

“Overly burdensome requirements hurt small businesses, working parents, young entrepreneurs and others making it more difficult for honest Americans to get ahead. This bill discourages government overreach by allowing workers the freedom and opportunity to grow,” Issa said.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who introduced the Senate version of the bill, said occupational licensing costs consumers $200 billion in added costs every year, and it prevents an estimated 3 million professionals from job opportunities.

“This bill creates an incentive for states to implement much needed occupational licensing reforms,” Lee said.