In Restoring the Right to Earn a Living: A Common-Sense Solution to Occupational Licensing Job Barriers, Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches examines the burdens inflicted by onerous job licensing requirements in Louisiana. And for many Louisiana job-seekers, it’s a pretty grim situation. “For too many professions, occupational licensing requirements do not exist to protect public health and safety—rather, they exist to protect incumbent industries or special interests, Riches says. “The percentage of jobs requiring a license has exploded over the last 60 years, and in a state like Louisiana, which has slow job growth and low wages, thousands of job-seekers are being unnecessarily blocked from meaningful work.”
In Louisiana, many professions that are unlicensed elsewhere require a license. Louisiana is the only state that requires florists to get government permission to arrange flowers, for example. The costs of receiving an occupational license—in money and time commitment—can be prohibitively high as well: In order to receive a license as an alarm installer, licensees must demonstrate more than five years of education and work experience, pass four exams, and pay $1,400 in fees. Many in Louisiana, including Governor John Bel Edwards, have begun to push for occupational licensing reform in the state; Governor Edwards has specifically questioned the florist license.
In his paper, Riches points to the Right to Earn a Living Act, already law in Arizona, as a solution. The Act, he explains, would put “the burden of proof back where it belongs—on the regulators who restrict economic freedom, instead of the job-seeker.” If the government cannot prove that a license is required to protect the public, then people are free to pursue the occupation of their choice.