Sens. Lee, Cruz, Sasse, and Rep. Issa Introduce Occupational Licensing Reform Bill

July 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), as well as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the Restoring Board Immunity Act Thursday, a bill designed to help states reform their occupational licensing regulations.

“Occupational licensing costs consumers $200 billion in higher costs every year and deprives an estimated three million prospective professionals of job opportunities,” Sen. Lee said. “This bill creates an incentive for states to implement much needed occupational licensing reforms.”

"Occupational licensing schemes are one of the worst expressions of special interests stifling the American dream for hardworking men and women across this country,” Sen. Cruz said. “The government should not be unnecessarily denying people the opportunity to earn an honest living. This bill incentivizes states to roll back and reform job-killing regulations, and create better paying jobs and greater opportunity.”

"If we want to help our neighbors find work and fight poverty, we can start by clearing away unnecessary occupational licensing barriers,” said Sasse. “Men and women who want to serve their communities and provide for their kids shouldn’t have to wander through the complicated maze of complicated licensing requirements."

“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 be able to do their job,” said Congressman Darrell Issa. “While many licenses are to ensure safety, these requirements are often for jobs no more risky than braiding hair, dog-watching, or flower arranging. These overly burdensome requirements have become an often-overlooked inhibitor of economic growth and made it difficult for honest Americans to get ahead. This bill makes long-overdue reforms that will encourage states make changes in order to create jobs and promote opportunity for all.”

For some professions, like pilots and dentists, government sanctioned licensing requirements are necessary for public safety. But there is no reason a license is needed to decorate a room or braid someone’s hair. Unfortunately, far too many professions are now closed off to new entrants because of onerous licensing requirements.

The Federal Trade Commission has been fighting some of these laws on antitrust grounds and in 2015 the Supreme Court’s decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC created significant uncertainty regarding the legality of state occupational licensing boards across the country.

This bill would both provide state occupational licensing boards the antitrust protection they need to continue operating, so long as the state enact certain occupational licensing reforms designed to protect consumers and prospective professionals.