Senators Introduce Occupational Licensing Reform Bill to Expand Economic Opportunity

Earlier this week, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced legislation aimed at expanding economic opportunity by reducing unnecessary licensing requirements for various occupations.

Named the “Alternatives to Licensing that Lower Obstacles to Work Act” or Allow Act, the bill would create an office within the District Attorney General’s Office that would ensure occupational licensing boards adopt the “least restrictive regulations necessary to protect consumers.” The bill only applies to the District of Columbia, but is meant to serve as a model for state governments to enact. It would also allow military spouses to use their occupational license on military bases across state lines.

According to Sen. Lee, “The principle at the heart of the American economic system is equality of opportunity. In practice, this means eliminating all forms of legal privilege and political favoritism, so that the economy rewards hard work, initiative, good judgment, and personal responsibility. Unfortunately too many localities have allowed licensing requirements to become a barrier that prevent younger and less fortunate workers from getting better and higher-paying jobs.”

Sen. Lee’s statement is backed by the evidence. In the 1950s, only 5 percent of the U.S. workforce needed an occupational license or “government permission slip” to work. That number has risen to 30 percent today and is used by established companies to weed out competition.

At a time of poor Department of Labor (DOL) monthly job reports and a labor force participation rate at its lowest level since the late 1970s, now is a perfect opportunity to lower government created regulatory barriers preventing Americans from employment.

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