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Bills Targeting Dubious Licensing Laws Held Up In The Legislature

Interior designers, auctioneers, community planners all subject to regulations

Measures to eliminate licensing laws for occupations varying from interior designers to auctioneers have been introduced in Michigan's legislature, but moving those bills toward passage has been minimal.

That appears to be due to the Legislature's deliberative process. More than 30 bills pertaining to the elimination of occupational licensing are now in either the House Regulatory Reform Committee or the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

The major push for the legislation came from within the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder. In April 2012, the Office of Regulatory Reinvention recommended the elimination of 18 occupational licenses and nine licensure boards.

Licensing sometimes is necessary with occupations for which expertise and training are required to protect public health and safety. However, such licensing often does little more than restrict competition within a trade, said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 

"Many of Michigan's licenses are barriers to entry that seem less about protecting the public than about protecting businesses from competition," Homan said.

One of the bills in the legislature that targets occupational licensing attempts to repeal a specific licensing requirement, but is aimed at setting guidelines.

House Bill 4641, sponsored by Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, would establish a right to engage in a lawful occupation without unreasonable governmental regulation. If the measure was enacted, occupational regulations would be limited to situations in which the protection of health and safety was a factor.

The bill was introduced on April 30, and is currently in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

"I think this is something that could get some serious consideration," Rep. McMillin said. "It is prospective, and would not apply to existing licensing. But I do think that if it was enacted we might start looking back at some of the licensing that is already on the books and asking if they fit the new rules."

The following are some highlights of legislation to repeal occupational licensing that is before the legislature:

Dietitians and Nutritionists

House Bill 4688, sponsored by Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, would repeal the licensure of dietitians and nutritionists. This bill is in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

Interior Designers

House Bill 4378, sponsored by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Richmond, would repeal the statute that regulates interior designers. The state is currently required to maintain a list of interior designers and make it available to the state and local units of government. The bill was passed by the House 110-0 on March 21. It is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

Senate Bill 479, sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, is a companion bill to House Bill 4378. Senate Bill 479 also is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

Auctioneers

House Bill 4681, sponsored by Rep. Cindy Denby, R-Fowlerville, would repeal the law that established a Board of Auctioneers and the requirement that auctioneers register with the state. It was passed 84-21 by the House on May 29 and is in the Senate Regulatory Committee.

House Bill 4682, sponsored by Harold Haugh, D-Roseville, is a companion bill to House Bill 4681. It also is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

In addition, Senate Bills 477 and 478, sponsored by Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, deal with the auctioneer issue. They too are in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

Community Planners

House Bill 4377, sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, would repeal the registration requirement for professional community planners. Community planners are described as "persons qualified to prepare long-range proposals for the arrangement of land uses that are intended primarily to guide government policy toward achieving orderly and coordinated development of the entire community."

On March 21, the legislation passed the House on a 95-15 vote. It is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

A related bill, Senate Bill 494, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, also is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

Carnival Amusement Safety

House Bill 4691, Sponsored by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Richmond, would abolish the seven member state carnival amusement safety board. This board has a required number of meetings each year, which are paid for by taxpayer dollars. In eliminating the Carnival Amusement Safety Board, the responsibility to make known the rules for the safe installation, repair, maintenance, use, operation, and inspection of all carnival amusement rides would be transferred to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The legislation was passed by the House June 13 with a 60-46 vote. It is in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

Ski Area Safety

House Bill 4692, sponsored by Rep. McMillin, would abolish the Ski Area Safety Board. This board has a required number of meetings each year, which are paid for by taxpayer dollars. In eliminating the Ski Area Safety Board, the responsibility to make known rules for the safe construction, installation, repair, use, operation, maintenance, and inspection of all ski areas and ski lifts would be transferred to the director of LARA. This bill is before the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

Some of the other occupations targeted for similar changes with legislation currently in the legislature include: immigration clerical assistants, proprietary school solicitors, foresters, landscape architects, and polygraph examiners.

In one instance, legislation to loosen an occupational restriction has already been passed by the legislature. House Bill 4045, sponsored by Rep. Hugh Crawford, R-Novi, deleted a requirement that an apprenticeship training program for a fire alarm specialty apprentice technician be equivalent to federal requirements.

It was signed into law by Gov. Snyder on April 24.

Eliminating burdensome rules and regulations created by government officials has been a focus of the Institute for Justice, a national organization based in Virginia. The group also monitors licensing across the states and has filed lawsuits across the country on behalf of business owners.

The organization has studied licensing and has a list of three questions policy makers should ask when discussing a license:

  • Is an occupation unlicensed in other states?
  • Are the licensure burdens for an occupation high compared to other states?
  • Are the licensure burdens for an occupation high compared to other occupations with greater safety risks?

Rep. Crawford chairs the House Regulatory Reform Committee. Sen. Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights, chairs the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. Neither responded to requests for comment.

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See also:

State and Federal Regulations Burying Businesses

Licensing Lunacy

Regulatory Roadblocks Hurt the Poor

Legislation Would Eliminate Licensing Mandate on Dietitians, Nutritionists

Bill Would Lessen Mandates On Landscape Architects

Putting Up Gutters and Laying Down Tile Will Cost You In Michigan

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