Licensing reform efforts cross partisan barriers. Unfortunately, so do efforts to cripple opportunity and prosperity.
There isn't much that Americans agree on these days, but one of the few issues that brings most of us together is the no-brainer effort to reform the tangle of occupational licensing rules that are strangling Americans' mobility and prosperity. But as party-line-crossing as support for this reform may be—and despite the accumulating evidence of the damage these laws do—state governments across the country continue to launch legal assaults on entrepreneurs and willing customers doing business without government permission.
Earlier this month, Ivanka Trump urged states to end "excessive licensure." And Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang called for easing licensing requirements that make it hard for people to move between states. "Americans are moving across state lines at multi-decade lows. This is bad for our labor market and for people who are seeking new opportunities," Yang pointed out.
Yang's proposal for encouraging state regulatory authorities to recognize licenses issued by other states won support from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican. Whatever their differences, the two men agree that restrictive licensing rules are bad for Americans. "@AndrewYang – good policy knows no party," Ducey tweeted. "Arizona has led as the first state to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses. Would love to hear this issue brought up at the next debate."
In April, Ducey signed a law under which his state recognizes all occupational licenses issued by other states, when such licenses are required to work in Arizona. It's an effort to alleviate the damage to mobility done by occupational licensing, since people whose work requires licenses usually must pay the fees and take the time to get licensed all over again when crossing a state border.
"The share of the workforce that falls under some sort of licensing requirement has risen from 5 percent in the 1950s to almost 25 percent in 2008," urbanist Richard Florida noted in 2017. "Such licensing requirements make it hard for people in those professions to move from place to place, where wages are higher or where their services are more needed."