Tag Archives: occupational licensing

Putting occupational licensing on the Maryland reform agenda

Last year the Washington Post rightly applauded Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s signing of a bill reducing licensing requirements for personnel at “blowout” hair salons as “a modest but genuine step toward reform of occupational licensing rules that too often stand in the way of career progress for working Americans, and not only in Maryland.” The Obama White House, think tanks, and many economists agree that needless licensing rules exclude qualified newcomers from desirable jobs and often harm consumers as well by restricting choice and driving up the cost of services. (More here.)

Where should Maryland reformers turn next? In 2012 the Institute for Justice published a nationwide comparison that ranked Maryland as 14th most burdensome of the fifty-states-plus-DC in its licensing rules. Of the 42 occupations Maryland requires a license to practice, 16 require such a license in 10 or fewer other states, suggesting that much of the country gets along quite well without such rules. They include tree trimmer (only 6 other states choose to license), social and human service assistant, and a variety of residential construction trades including window repair, floor sanding, and carpentry. These jobs can offer a livelihood and a path for upward advancement for a wide range of workers, including some who lack degrees or are re-entering the workforce after absence, who lack the resources or patience to surmount the licensing barrier.

Equally problematic, even when other states license a given occupation, Maryland often loads onto the entrant heavier education and experience requirements. It ranks 10th of 51 in that category of burden, typically requiring more than a year of preparation before conferring a right to practice. While 39 states require a license before practicing massage therapy, for example, Maryland demands nearly a year of preparation, almost three times as long as neighboring Virginia, Delaware, or Pennsylvania.

It’s a target-rich environment — although many of the burdensome rules, alas, will be closely defended by incumbent practitioners who do not like the idea of easier access to their occupations.

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In miniature, May 7

  • Governor should keep the redistricting issue in play: “Hogan has backing — from the general public, from all those sick of gerrymandering and interested in responsible government and from a long-term national trend.” [Capital Gazette] “U.S. judge: Miller, Busch must testify, turn over documents in redistricting case” [Washington Post]
  • Also on the redistricting topic, I was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi show on the topic during session, with former Del. Aisha Braveboy and Maryland Republican chair Dirk Haire [listen]
  • No thanks, let’s keep the farebox recovery rule, in which Maryland shows itself more fiscally prudent than many states with mass transit systems [Brian O’Malley, Greater Greater Washington]
  • Two liability-expanding decisions from the Maryland Court of Appeals, May v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp. (duty to warn of asbestos in other companies’ products) and Spangler v. McQuitty (wrongful death action can be filed notwithstanding earlier assertion of personal injury action) made it into American Tort Reform Association’s Judicial Hellholes report last year;
  • The Slants, band whose name is the subject of a trademark case before the U.S. Supreme Court, play Frederick [Ronald K. L. Collins, Concurring Opinions]
  • “Maryland Decriminalizes Unlicensed Barbering; Jacks Up Fines for Unlicensed Barbering” [Eric Boehm/Reason]

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