(Columbus, OH) – Occupational licensing is meant to increase safety for consumers. However, when it takes longer for a barber to obtain a license than an EMT, something is wrong with the system. Why have local and state governments kept passing regulations on trades for years without cause for safety concerns?
In the 1950s, fewer than five percent of jobs in the U.S. required a license. Today, about a quarter of American jobs require a license. These increases in licensing have not made the rendering of services safer, the very purpose they aim to achieve.
In Ohio, the State House’s Economic Development, Commerce, and Labor Committee recently held a hearing on House Bill 164, which would force commercial roofers to pass a state exam, demonstrate years of experience, and pay a combination of fees in order to be recognized as a legitimate construction contractor by the state. Supporters of this bill claim public safety is at the heart of the measure.
In real terms, HB 164 would deny, Latinos and others, the opportunity to develop better skills while earning a wage that helps them achieve their American Dream. It would also contribute to higher costs for roof projects – with only a relatively narrow range of workers available to take part in construction projects.
Coalitions Director in Ohio for The LIBRE Initiative, Ezra Escudero, offered testimony meant to sway committee members to oppose the bill.
“If we already have state agencies combatting fraud, and we already have amazing, cutting-edge, and inexpensive solutions to help deliver quality training, continuing education, and competent contractor services, then why do some big corporate roofing contractors want House Bill 164 to pass? Why do the industry associations support new licenses and training requirements?
Time and again, the unfortunate answer is unfairly gained money by changing the rules. It is one thing to earn revenues honestly by providing value in the marketplace. We are all better off when businesses make things more innovative, better, faster, cheaper, and safer. Unfortunately, we are all worse off when businesses and organizations lobby for rules that benefit them, and burden others.
Ohio already licenses 40 low to moderate income occupations, including everything from makeup artists to mobile home installers. The requirements of these licenses restrict competition, leading to higher prices for those with licenses and restricted opportunity for those without. By extending this sprawling licensing regime to commercial roofing contractors, H.B. 164 will lock Latino workers and others out of opportunities in the construction industry at the expense of their fellow Ohioans.
Consumers pay the price in the form of higher costs for construction and roof installation, with no measurable improvement to their safety. Far from benefiting the state of Ohio, this bill will only enrich special interest groups at the expense of everyone else. Even today, occupational licenses cost the average Ohio family an additional $775 per year. This is a real tax, especially on the poor and the middle class, restored citizens, Latinos in Ohio, entrepreneurs with dreams and many others.”
Occupational licenses create hurdles for individuals trying to earn a living and provide for their families. These are real obstacles in the way of achieving the American Dream. Instead of restricting opportunities, local and state governments should be facilitating them through the demolition of unnecessary regulation.
For interviews with a representative from The LIBRE Initiative, please contact Wadi Gaitan, 301-356-2911