Choosing The Gatekeepers

Choosing The Gatekeepers

Louisiana once again finds itself atop yet another “naughty” list. Currently, Louisiana has the largest number of occupations regulated by boards on which private sector members are recommended by a trade association.

Choosing the Gatekeepers: How Special Interests Control Licensing Board Nominations is a new report from Pacific Legal Foundation. The report considered seventeen occupations that are governed by a licensing board that is part of the executive branch across all fifty states. It found ninety-six instances in which occupational licenses are issued and regulated by board members hand-picked by people working in the profession. Louisiana was the worst offender. Of the seventeen occupations studied, twelve are controlled by members of that profession in Louisiana: accountants, architects, barbers, dentists, land surveyors, nurses, optometrists, physical therapists, physicians, podiatrists, psychologists, and veterinarians.

For the most part, Louisiana’s governor is limited to a list of names submitted by the relevant trade association when appointing members to the boards governing these occupations. For example, members appointed to the Board of Barber Examiners are selected by the governor from a list of three names provided by the Louisiana State Association of Journeyman Barbers, Hair Dressers, Cosmetologists, and Proprietors.[1] All five members of the Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners must be licensed architects.[2]

Some boards include one or two members who represent the consumers of the state. Two of the ten members of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing must be non-nurses[3]; however, the nurse members of the board do not need those two votes to reach a majority.  In fact, the Board’s rules require only six members to reach a quorum.

The Pelican Institute has extensively reported how occupational licensing holds back Louisiana entrepreneurs. Granting authority over occupational licensing to market participants is another way this state discourages entrepreneurship and results in fewer services and options for Louisiana consumers. Those already within the profession have a vested interest in limiting competition, the power to give favors to friends, and the ability to make life difficult for rivals or competitors.

This behavior also likely violates a U.S. Supreme Court decision, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, and is actionable in a court of law because it creates a conflict of interest that equates to anticompetitive behavior by the government. Overhauling the boards that control who can work in a certain profession—and which competitors are excluded—can go a long way in restoring Louisianans’ right to earn a living.

[1] La. Stat. Ann. § 37:341 (2021)

[2] La. Stat. Ann. § 37:142 (2021)

[3] La. Stat. Ann. § 37:914 (2021)

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