Occupational-Licensing Reform Can Improve Upward Mobility for Low-Income and Military Families

For those who can least afford them, licensing fees are a substantial burden that should be eliminated.

Occupational licensing, the requirement that people get a government permission slip to work, hurts millions of Americans in their efforts to make a living and support themselves. But licensing laws disproportionately harm two groups in particular: those trapped in poverty and military families. Groups as politically diverse as President Obama’s White House and the House Freedom Caucus agree on these points, and this bipartisan consensus has led to real reforms at the state level. The leaders who are championing those reforms are breaking down barriers to opportunity. During the most recent legislative session, Arizona state representative Jeff Weninger sponsored a bill that allows individuals with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line ($24,000 per year for an individual) to obtain an occupational license without paying the accompanying fee. Considering that more than 20 percent of Arizonans need a state license to do their job, Weninger’s proposal, since passed and signed into law, will open many promising career paths to low-income workers.