Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor in this fall’s election, has proposed a measure that would eliminate occupational licensing for jobs that do not directly impact the health and safety of consumers. Of all the proposals designed to help poor and lower-income people, this one deserves major kudos. It does not involve expansion of a massive government program, and it reduces the cost to those who wish to profit from their knowledge and skills. It will also boost economic growth and tax revenue, since studies indicate that such licensing reduces job growth by 20 percent!
NCPA has written about this issue and its detrimental effect on individuals who wish to start their own business on a shoestring budget. They are kept out by complex and expensive training and licensing requirements. Unfortunately, many industries lobby for such requirements in the name of “health and safety” in order to keep out competitors. This means fewer people able to engage in the profession of their choice and pricier services for consumers.
Critics contend that Mr. Abbott’s plan would gut needed protections for consumers and reduce the credibility of quality professionals. But simply having a license does not mean a person performs quality work. In fact, by relaxing some licensing requirements and allowing more individuals to enter the market, competition will flourish and sub-par professionals will be forced out. Competition is simply the best way to assure quality.
Among the occupational licenses that would be reformed or repealed:
- Dog trainer
- Cosmetologist (including hair braiders)
- Towing operator
And no, these proposed repeals will not extend to doctors, lawyers, peace officers, and building engineers. So Texans who are worried about the emergence of quack doctors running around with snake oil and medieval surgical tools can be rest assured.
But lifting the regulatory burden for entrepreneurs is long overdue.