Licensing review is a welcome development
by The Oklahoman Editorial Board

GOV. Mary Fallin has called for review of Oklahoma’s occupational licensing laws with the goal of eliminating and reducing unnecessary regulation. That’s welcome news that could increase economic opportunity for many Oklahomans.

The need for regulation certainly exists in some situations, but many occupational licensing requirements are designed primarily to reduce competition and drive up profits for established industry players. Purported public safety benefits are negligible or even laughable.

According to the federal Department of Treasury, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Labor, the percentage of the Oklahoma workforce licensed by the state is 25 percent — higher than all but 11 states. The average education or experience required to obtain a state occupational license in Oklahoma is 416 days, higher than all but 10 states. A 2007 Reason Foundation study found Oklahoma licensed 91 job categories, compared with 41 in Missouri.

Those statistics suggest Oklahoma is rife with occupational over-regulation. Some examples are especially glaring. According to the Institute for Justice, Oklahoma is one of just 15 states requiring hair braiders to obtain a specialty “technician” license. That process involves 600 hours of coursework and passing a practical and written exam and can cost up to $10,000. Little of the required training pertains to braiding and there are no major safety issues associated with braiding.

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