by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
That is a subhead in my recent research brief on the de-licensing revolution. In it I wrote:
In North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, the Supreme Court ruled that a state licensing board may violate federal antitrust law if a controlling number of board members comprise “active market participants” regulated by the board but the board’s actions are not “clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed as state policy” nor is the board “actively supervised by the State.” Boards could therefore no longer expect antitrust immunity, and exactly how the state could demonstrate active supervision over licensing boards is unclear.
There has been a steep rise in occupational licensing midway through last century till now. In the 1950s one in 20 workers needed a license in order to work; now licensing affects nearly 30 percent of the nation’s workforce. But the expanse of licensing has been accompanied by growing societal unease over licensing.
Reforming occupational licensing is a rare issue uniting the political Left and Right, but it nevertheless had been an elusive prospect because of public-choice dynamics. This loss of antitrust immunity appears to have tipped the scales, finally, in favor of reform.
A big part of the de-licensing revolution is not just single-occupation de-licensing, but systematic reform. Among the states making sweeping reforms, Arizona, Tennessee, and Mississippi each passed the Right to Earn a Living Act or similar legislation.
The Right to Earn a Living Act or something similar is under consideration in other states this year, according to Goldwater Institute:
Major occupational licensing reforms are gaining traction throughout the country. Following Arizona’s enactment of the Right to Earn a Living Act (RTEAL) Act, dozens of states are considering licensing reforms, and at least three states—California, Louisiana, and Colorado—have introduced “cause of action” legislation like RTEAL, which allows individuals the opportunity to meaningfully challenge arbitrary restrictions on their right to earn a living.
North Carolina should add itself to this list.