by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
I wrote in Carolina Journal last month about the moral, legal, indisputable, tangible, and practical reasons why North Carolina needs to find alternatives to its all-or-nothing approach to occupational licensing.
Quite frankly, the moral and legal cases should suffice. Our own state constitution recognizes people’s inalienable right to enjoy the fruit of their own labor. And the Federal Trade Commission is no longer giving occupational licensing boards an automatic pass from antitrust laws, as state leaders ought to know ever since the Supreme Court loss in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (2015).
But let’s take a look at the practical reasons:
The General Assembly regularly receives requests from occupations seeking special validation. This session, for example, has bills to:
- Establish new licensing boards for naturopathic doctors and music therapists
- Forbid hospitals from hiring uncredentialed surgical technologists
- Require insurers to pay for autism treatment by certified behavioral analysts
- Allow (for a fee) a special endorsement to a respiratory care practitioner‘s license to recognize outside training and credentialing beyond requirements for licensure
- Allow voluntary registration of certified interior designers within the N.C. Department of Insurance
Does each occupation making such a request need its own special state apparatus and barriers to entry? Obviously not.
But the frequency of such requests suggests something is lacking. North Carolina obviously needs a better way to balance protecting people’s constitutional right to work and enjoy the fruits of their labors and protecting public health and safety.
Reforms in Arizona, Tennessee, and Mississippi point the way. They offer thorough approaches to conform — and limit — the state’s involvement in an occupation to the issue at hand. If cleanliness, require inspections; if damage to third parties, bonding; if shadiness, registration; if insurance reimbursement, certification.
Importantly, they would go no further than the least regulatory activity necessary.
Meanwhile, debate is set in a House committee today to consider creating a brand-new licensing board for music therapists. Why?
Is music therapy so fraught with peril for practitioners and consumers that only state regulation via licensure can tame the danger? What do other states do?
Most don’t think it needs licensure, that’s for sure.
According to the Certification Board of Music Therapists, which is a certification board for music therapists, only seven U.S. states require licensure for music therapists. That’s 14 percent. They are Georgia, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
A few other states, however, have recognized that there could be alternatives to licensing music therapists that protect the integrity of the occupation without blocking entry to it and creating antitrust problems with an unnecessary state licensing board.
Connecticut allows only certified music therapists to advertise themselves to consumers as certified music therapists. Utah likewise recognizes certified music therapists but does not preclude noncertified music therapists from practicing. Wisconsin merely requires certified music therapists to register with the state.
Certification, title protection, and registration are all ways to address concerns with an industry without keeping people from their constitutional right to earn a living.
Note: The painting depicted above is Saul and David by Rembrandt.