Since 2018, Louisiana has embarked on a significant journey towards occupational licensing reform, aiming to address barriers and streamline regulations affecting various professions within the state. A recent meeting of a state oversight body shows they appear to be making a difference for optometrists, veterinarians, and cosmetologists alike.

Nationwide, nearly one-quarter of U.S. workers need a license to practice their profession—essentially a permission slip from the government. Louisiana is no different, requiring would-be professionals to jump through a series of costly and time-consuming hoops in order to earn a living. The Pelican Institute has been leading an effort to reform these unnecessary rules—both through litigation and legislation—and Louisianans are seeing the results.

In 2018, in an attempt to reform occupational licensing in Louisiana, lawmakers established the Occupational Licensing Review Commission with the goal of conducting a comprehensive evaluation of existing licensing regulations. The OLRC comprises representatives from multiple industries, consumer advocates, and policymakers. Its primary objective is to identify unnecessary and burdensome licensing requirements, and it is designed to oversee the rulemaking process for the various occupational boards throughout the state.

The reform efforts continued in 2022 with the passage of Pelican Institute legislation aimed at promoting occupational mobility, further protection from excessive regulation, and requiring boards to use the least restrictive means necessary to protect public health and safety while considering alternatives to licensure. Further, lawmakers agreed to enact reciprocity in licensing, making it easier for the spouse and children of military members who are licensed in other states to obtain a license in Louisiana.

Recently the board met to review rules that are being proposed or amended for optometrists, professional counselors, veterinarians, and cosmetologists. The Pelican Institute reviewed these rule proposals to determine the extent to which boards seem to be complying with these new laws, including repealing rules that have nothing to do with the health, safety, welfare, and fiduciary duty to consumers and making it easier, not harder, to obtain a license.

The Board of Optometry Examiners sought to expand opportunities for professionals to meet their continuing education requirements, making it easier to maintain a license.

The Veterinary Board proposed removing the requirement that applicants submit a letter of recommendation, noting that “numerous veterinary boards across the country taking similar steps to streamline the application for licensure process, and removing this requirement allows the Board to remove additional barriers to the timely processing of applications and the issuance of licenses.”

The State Board of Cosmetology proposed easing its rules for students, allowing them to take the required exam prior to finishing their schooling in order to expedite the licensing process. The board also proposed to institute reciprocity for those licensed in other states to be eligible for licensure in Louisiana.

We applaud these boards for their responsiveness to laws recently enacted to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of consumers while increasing economic opportunity for Louisianans. We look forward to seeing more of it.