Yesterday Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed the Occupational Reform Act (LB 299) into law. This reform follows closely on a previous law that addressed certain occupational licenses in Nebraska (see below).

This law incorporates reforms advocated by the John Locke Foundation for years: use the least restrictive policy option necessary, have periodic review of licensing requirements, use the least burdensome requirements for licensing that’s deemed necessary.

Speaking of, remember how we have argued for years that occupational licensing reform is an issue that unites the political Left and Right? Well, the Nebraska bill had tri-partisan support: introduced by a Libertarian and supported overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans.

Here is the Institute for Justice discussing the Nebraska law:

Sponsored by Sen. Laura Ebke, the new law (LB 299) establishes a review process that will use a two-step process to review existing regulations. First, there must be “present, significant, and substantiated harms” that warrant government intervention. Second, if such a problem exists, the legislators must first consider a regulation that is the “least restrictive” and imposes the lowest burdens and costs while still protecting consumers from the harm.

As part of the new law’s rigorous “sunset review” process, every year, legislative standing committees will examine one-fifth of the state’s occupational regulations to identify any rules or laws that should be repealed or modified so that they are the least restrictive. Similar bills are also under consideration in Colorado, Louisiana and Ohio.

“Regulation does not have to be a binary choice between licensing and no licensing,” McGrath explained. “A least restrictive framework grants policymakers a wider array of regulatory options including private certification, inspections, bonding, and registration.”

“Occupational licensing should only be a policy of last resort.”

LB 299 also addresses how occupational licensing blocks upward mobility and re-entry for people with a criminal record. Under the bill, before applicants complete any required training, they will be able to petition an agency to see if their criminal history would be disqualifying. If denied, applicants will then be able to appeal that disqualification. …

LB 299 earned the endorsements of the ACLU of Nebraska, the Platte Institute, and the editorial board for The Wall Street Journal, which praised the bill as “a model for licensing reform.” The Occupational Board Reform Act builds on previous deregulation efforts. Last week, Gov. Ricketts signed a bill that eliminates licensing requirements to massage horses, cats or dogs, while the state has also freed hair braiders from licensure.

The revolution is real

There have now been more successful de-licensing efforts since 2016 (nine) than there were the 40 years prior (eight). Many of these efforts have been sweeping reforms.

More are on the way, including in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

When will North Carolina join them? It’s past time.