Congress Joins The Fight Against Occupational Licensing

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On April 26, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the New HOPE Act, which would allow governors to use existing federal funds for technical education “to identify and eliminate excessive occupational licensure.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

This bill follows the licensing reforms that Rep. Walberg unsuccessfully pushed last year. But with the growing realization in Washington, D.C. and state capitols that today’s level of occupational licensing has grown too large in both scope and scale, there is much reason for optimism that the bill will become law this year. In the following interview, Rep. Walberg explains why the New HOPE Act would help promote state-level occupational licensing reforms that increase economic opportunity .

Jared Meyer: Licensing has historically been controlled by states. Why do you think that it is time for the federal government to get involved?

Rep. Tim Walberg: Instead of a heavy-handed approach, the New HOPE Act draws attention to the tangled web of licensing fees and requirements and gives states additional tools to streamline them.

I’m a longtime proponent of the principles of federalism, and the New HOPE Act stays true to those principles. It encourages states to review their occupational licensing requirements by giving governors flexibility to use existing federal funding to identify and reduce unnecessary obstacles to employment. Many states like Michigan are already doing these reviews, and this bipartisan bill helps put the right incentives in place to persuade other states to follow their lead.