In a recent interview, published in the Wall Street Journal on-line, Robert L. Woodson, Sr., who heads the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, talked about the real barriers to upward mobility for America’s poor in many black neighborhoods:
… many poor communities don’t need another government program so much as relief from current policies.
He went on to say:
Aspiring barbers, cabdrivers, tree-trimmers, locksmiths and the like can face burdensome licensing requirements. Proponents of these rules like to cite public-safety concerns, but the reality is that licensure requirements exist mainly to shut out competition. In many black communities, that translates into fewer jobs and less access to quality goods and services.
It’s understandable that existing practitioners want to reward themselves by pushing for rules that limit competition; however, it’s very difficult to grasp why legislators would willingly accept these intellectually dishonest arguments based on questionable scenarios of unlikely possible harm when the legislation would result in guaranteed restricting of competition and limiting upward mobility.
New or increased occupational regulations are seldom brought to the Missouri General Assembly by concerned citizens – it’s nearly always the practitioners, through their associations, with competitive advantages to gain, who push for these laws.
These same groups are there in opposition when reform measures are proposed calling for more in-depth study before additional or substantially increased occupational regulations may be adopted.
An opportunity to change the way new occupational regulation laws are considered, by requiring a demonstration of the need for such laws, is moving through the lawmaking process this legislative session. At this juncture it is attached to House Bill 1842, which was recently reported out of Rules after being heard and voted “do pass” by Professional Registration and Licensing.
The proposed measure stipulates certain non-binding policy preferences for all new occupational regulations. The bill also requires proponents to furnish information, to the extent requested by the legislative committees of reference, to demonstrate the need for the proposed occupational regulations. Generally referred to as a Sunrise Act, at least 20 states have adopted comparable statutes to review new occupational regulations.
This good government approach is being fought tooth and nail, not by consumers, but by an occupation association that wants to use brute political force and not logic or reason to defeat the Missouri Sunrise Act.
Missouri legislators – don’t make it easy to implement new barriers to upward mobility – let the sun rise on a more economically free state.