Free Market

Citizens Need the Ability to Challenge Occupational Licensing Requirements

Daltonio Elaire, a barber in Lafayette, Louisiana, had the innovative idea to launch a mobile barbershop in 2020. This mobile barbershop operated in a similar fashion to a food truck and allowed people to get a haircut during the pandemic. Excited about the idea, he poured hours of hard work and his life savings into this dream. This entrepreneurial mindset was initially rewarded with positive customer feedback regarding its operation. 

Unfortunately, Daltonio’s success was short lived. The success of his business was challenged not because it was a poor concept, he lacked a strong work ethic, or because of his abilities as a manager—it was challenged due to arbitrary government regulation. 

Specifically, Louisiana’s state licensing board took direct aim at his business, and despite Daltonio obtaining the proper permits for a barbershop, determined that Daltonio was unable to continue operating his mobile barbershop. When Daltonio attempted to work with the board to clear up any confusion and keep his business running, he was met with resistance. In fact, the licensing board completely rejected his efforts.

Daltonio vividly remembers this happening saying, “I really didn’t get an opportunity to appeal. Basically, the phone call I received was the end-all.”

Unfortunately, stories like Daltonio’s are common and can be found across the state of Utah. Too often the general public, including innovative entrepreneurs, single moms, and even veterans, are being left out of decisions regarding the licensing of their occupations. As illustrated by Daltonio, this has consequences. 

Morris Kleiner, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies, asserted that “licensing laws [have] become a national patchwork of stealth regulation that has, among other things, restricted labor markets, innovation, and worker mobility.” Kleiner further asserted that licensing resulted in 2.85 million fewer jobs nationally with an annual cost to consumers of $203 billion. These consequences are exacerbated when citizens are unable to speak up in opposition to their cause.

The general public must be given the opportunity to appeal licensing requirements, so individuals can more easily enter the workforce and pursue their passions. Requiring that states allow citizens to challenge licensing requirements would force occupational licensing boards to justify the legitimate fiduciary, public health, safety, or welfare reasons for current restrictive regulations. This would allow occupational licensing regulations that unfairly hamper innovative and hard-working individuals to be eliminated.