Fewer licensing regulations a worthwhile goal in 2016
By Mark V. Holden
What should Oklahoma lawmakers’ New Year’s resolutions be? I have a suggestion: Break down barriers to opportunity for the least fortunate.
Elected officials in Oklahoma City city hall and in the state Capitol should start by rolling back burdensome occupational licensing regulations, which stand in the way of low-income job seekers and budding entrepreneurs.
Most people have never heard of occupational licenses, yet they are a growing hindrance to economic mobility in Oklahoma and across the country. Before you can work in many professions, you’e forced to seek permission from your state or local government in the form of an occupational license. To make matters more difficult, you often have to pay a significant sum of money or spend months — and sometimes years — in training before beginning your career.
That wasn’t a huge deal when occupational licenses only applied to lawyers, doctors and airline pilots. But other businesses quickly found they could handicap competitors and innovative start-ups if they licensed their own industries.