by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
Gee, I hate to start numbering this, but it’s beginning to look like a necessity.
The first post pointing out the obvious, that regulatory reform should mean more freedom, not less, concerned Senate Bill 734, which was titled the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2014.” As I wrote last month,
To their credit, Republicans have passed regulatory reform acts in three straight years. That’s important because research has consistently shown a link between burdensome state regulations and negative economic effects. Empirical studies of state regulatory burdens were more likely to find negative economic effects than even studies of state tax burdens.
Those regulatory reforms have been, however, to curtail regulations, cut red tape, and offer more freedom for individuals and business. One aspect of the Regulatory Reform Act of 2014 would — surprisingly — run counter to that effort.
The less-freedom aspect I was talking about was a provision to expand licensing in landscape contracting, the effect of which would be
the costs to new entrants in landscape contracting in North Carolina would double, going from $225 to $450. Such a cost could well be daunting to potential entrants. Even if it isn’t, the state would be taking a bigger cut from would-be workers, and for what purpose?
Well, another bill (Senate Bill 493) is being styled as the Regulatory Reform Act of 2014, and wouldn’t you know it would go even further in curtailing occupation freedom?
It would create a new licensing board for behavioral analysts. Of course the bill trots out the expected “safety” justification for creating a new guild: “The practice of behavior analysis in North Carolina is hereby declared to affect the public health, safety, and welfare of citizens of North Carolina and to be subject to regulation to protect the public from (i) the practice of behavior analysis by unqualified persons and (ii) unprofessional, unethical, or harmful conduct by individuals licensed to practice behavior analysis.”
If this were to pass, North Carolina would join a minority of states in thinking that the practice of behavioral analysis is so dangerous that it is the sole responsibility of the state to police it — which would require a bureaucracy of current practitioners to make sure they protect … themselves from competition, innovation, and lower earnings.
Currently only 18 U.S. states require licensure or certification of behavioral analysts. Furthermore, there is, for example, a nonprofit Behavioral Analyst Certification Board that offers professional training and certification to meet its goal to “protect consumers of behavior analysis services worldwide by systematically establishing, promoting, and disseminating professional standards.”
North Carolina could continue to let behavioral analysts voluntarily seek this kind of professional certification and other kinds of privately provided signals to consumers of their professional competence. Or the state could choose this “regulatory reform” of getting in on the business, getting its cut of license fees ($250 for the application, $200 for the license), and collaborate with current behavioral analysts to make it harder for upcoming analysts (i.e., future competitors) to get in the business. The choice is between freedom and cronyism.
To quote from the first entry in what I hope won’t become a full-blown series:
There is no good reason for North Carolina to restrict the market further for [behavioral analysts]. Regulatory reform of occupational licensure should free the labor market more, not make it harder to enter.
The North Carolina Constitution in Article 1, Section 1, recognizes the self-evident right of all persons to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor.” Real regulatory reform ought to do the same.