Hooray for Gov. Snyder on Occupational Licensure

Gov. Snyder recently sent a letter to Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof explaining some of the problems of occupational licensure.

The governor summarizes some of the good work the Legislature has done, and outlines the principles he'll use in "determining whether to support any legislation providing for additional occupation regulation.” Below are these principles:

  1. There must be a substantial harm or danger to the public health, safety, or welfare as a result of unregulated practice, which will be abated through licensure.
  2. The practice of the occupation must require highly specialized education or training.
  3. The cost to state government of regulating the occupation must be revenue neutral.
  4. There must be no alternatives to state regulation of the occupation (such as national or third-party accreditation) which adequately protect the public.
  5. The scope of practice must be clearly distinguishable from other licensed, certified, and registered occupations.
  6. Regulation through registration or listing (as opposed to licensure) does little to protect public health and welfare, and is not an appropriate use of government resources.

Occupational licensure laws require people to pay a fee and complete state-approved training before they are legally allowed to practice a trade. The public benefits of these laws are dubious, and when they are proposed, the Legislature almost never requires evidence of how licensing laws will actually protect public health and safety. Usually, these mandates are initiated and supported by special interest groups who benefit directly when their competition is limited.

Gov. Snyder recognizes that licensing serves to protect groups from competition, which drives up prices for consumers and harms the poor the most. He should be applauded for his efforts and the Legislature should move forward with eliminating these barriers to, as Gov. Snyder put it, the "pursuit of happiness."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.