Nevada licenses work

A disturbing report by the libertarian law firm Institute for Justice reveals that Nevada is second only to Hawaii in the number of occupational licenses needed to work in the state. Nevada demands a license for 75 lower income occupations, while Hawaii demands state licenses for 77 low income occupations. Nevada also ranks second for the most burdensome, most broadly and most onerously applied occupational licensing regulations.

For example, Nevada is one of only four states that requires a state license to be an interior decorator. Nevada requires four years of education and two years of experience, or roughly 2,190 days of mandated training plus $1,215 in fees, plus an examination, all to help you decorate homes and businesses!

The right to earn a living in any of the harmless trades and businesses, known as occupations of common right, is an un-enumerated individual right that is recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Butchers’ Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746 (1884).

The “Police Powers of the State” assigns to government the protection of the health, safety and morals of the community. The problem is that no one can really show where these police powers actually come from. The extent that the people accepted this role for the state has varied. The classical liberal framework the country was founded on held that individuals should have the rights of the English as they existed in 1791, as recognized in most of the colonies, and did not contradict the spirit of the American Revolution. The right to contract for labor or create a business is a long recognized fundamental right that predates the state. The classical liberal order holds that individuals are the best (not perfect) judge of what is best for them, so a contract would represent a choice that was good for the transactors, and therefore a win-win for society. Only the use of force or fraud in a transaction should be prohibited and policed. Whatever harm a successful business causes its competitors because of consumer choice is more than offset by the gains to the parties and to consumers.

The role of government in a classical liberal economic order is to ensure that all can enter and exit a marketplace at will, without artificial barriers. Occupational licensing laws restricts free entry into an occupation. Licensing boards are usually composed of stakeholders already in the market who have an interest in keeping new competition out. Occupational licensing harms the poor the most because they are usually the least able to pay for the education and licensing fees, or the time involved. They are already spending too much time trying to make ends meet. Occupational licensing laws constitute an unnecessary regulatory burden imposed without a compelling public interest. They also discourage people from migrating to another state to make a better living, because to practice their trade in another state would require them to pass the occupational licensing laws, this time in a new state. Violations of these arbitrary laws can result in harsh civil and even criminal penalties.

The good news is that removing most occupational licensing laws is a bi-partisan, in fact multi-partisan policy. It’s hard to find anything that the Obama administration did, like its 2015 White House report suggesting a framework for Occupational Licensing, and what Republican Rep. Darrel Issa’s and Sen. Mike Lee’s bill to set licensing board guidelines, that occasion so much like agreement. Nevadans need to question all parties’ candidates on their plans to reform occupational licensing laws in the 2019 Legislature.