How Licensing Holds Back the Pelican State

Occupational licenses function as a government permission slip to work in a profession. Laws requiring them are generally passed by states and require a professional to meet entry requirements that often include minimum levels of education and training, job experience, passing exams, and paying fees. Proponents of licensing tout it as a form of consumer protection—by setting a mandated minimum standard to practice, the regulation theoretically ensures consumers receive quality service and protects public health and safety. Although there may be some merit in regulating medical professionals to ensure proper training and safety, the use of licensing in Louisiana has expanded far beyond a few highly skilled professionals.

Currently, Louisiana has one of the most stringent licensing burdens for low-and moderate-income occupations in the nation. These laws contribute to poverty and reduce upward mobility. They also make it more difficult to attract talented professionals to the state. Aspiring entrepreneurs face imposing governmental hurdles. Licensing may even increase crime by preventing those with criminal records from finding employment.

The accumulation of occupational licensing laws is hindering Louisiana, limiting prosperity, hurting workers, would-be entrepreneurs, and consumers—all while often failing to achieve its purported goal. Louisiana must join states that have implemented substantial licensing reforms.The Right to Earn a Living Act, universal recognition, effective sunset/sunrise reviews, and re-entry reforms can reduce the costs of licensing and ensure that regulations are effective and appropriate. Considering these reforms now would help expand economic opportunity for Louisianans, giving more people a path to achieving the American Dream. It’s time to stop the steady march of entrepreneurs out of the Pelican State, and help the state realize its full potential by rightsizing occupational licensing. 


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