State lawmakers on Oct. 18 outlined a proposal designed to limit unnecessary licensure for working in certain jobs, saying the state processes often create high barriers to entry. The bill sponsors, Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and Rep. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), told the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee that the bill, HB 289, would give the legislature more oversight of occupational licensing boards. The measure would also create a framework for alternatives to occupational licensure while protecting public health and safety, they said.
“In this legislature, we often talk about how we can help foster job creation. Frankly, occupational regulation is the antithesis of job creation,” Rep. Hood said. “It creates a situation where well-intentioned people must go, hat in hand, to the government and ask for a permission slip to simply earn a living. It makes obtaining a job in that field even more difficult and contributes to the unemployment rate.”
The proposal creates a process similar to a fiscal note that would educate the public on licensure changes.
The bill proposes that every occupational licensing board would automatically sunset at the end of five years unless renewed by the legislature. “Understand, this does not mean that these boards will necessarily be disbanded, only that they must be reviewed,” Rep. McColley said. “It is quite possible, and I would hope probable, that some existing licensure requirements can be modified to be less restrictive, but it is highly unlikely that these boards will be eliminated en masse.”
The measure includes a provision similar to one included in the budget bill, HB49, that would give the Common Sense Initiative the ability to evaluate actions by licensing boards for anti-competitive behavior and stop them. That oversight was designed to deal with potential conflicts of interests when people in an industry regulate themselves. After Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) asked if the intent was to change what was included in the budget, Rep. Hood said the bill was drafted before the budget passed and that an amendment would eliminate that provision.
Chairman Rep. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) asked if the sponsors had considered the effect of reducing licensure requirements on people who had already gone through the more rigorous process. “What do you do in the case when people went through that schooling, they expected to have an asset of a certain value for life, and now it’s worth a lot less through no fault of their own?” he asked, using the 1,500-hour requirement for a cosmetologist license as an example. Rep. McColley said it would be wrong to require other people to go through those same burdensome regulations if they aren’t needed, just because other workers went through the process first. “Market forces can take effect,” he said. “Those who had more training and those who were more skilled and more established in their businesses would continue to have an advantage over the competition.”
Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) asked how the legislative review of the licensing boards would differ from what is done in the budget process. By having a review every five years outside of the budget process, Rep. McColley said, the legislature would be able to take more time to look at the regulatory process of each board, rather than just its financial situation. “I’m of the belief that the budget process is probably not an appropriate avenue to review the complete regulatory structure of these boards and agencies,” he said. “With everything that’s going on in a budget and the accelerated time-frame we have for those discussions, I don’t think it’s really a good avenue to do a deep dive into these licensing agencies.”