Licensing Cartels Targeted By DC Lawmakers

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There is growing realization in Washington, D.C. and state capitol buildings that today’s level of occupational licensing has grown too large in both scope and scale. About three in every ten Americans need a license—or government permission slip—to earn a living. This is substantially higher than the 5% of workers who needed a license in the 1950s. Now everyone from locksmiths and interior designers, to tree trimmers and pet sitters, needs a license to work.

In light of this, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) recently introduced the Restoring Board Immunity Act to push state-level licensing reform. Companion legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ben Sasse (R-NE). In the following interview, Rep. Issa discusses how federalism, cronyism, and technology relate to the debate over occupational licensing’s effect on economic opportunity.

Jared Meyer: Most occupational licenses come from state-level laws and regulations. I know you are a dedicated supporter of federalism, so why get the federal government involved in this issue?