I read this on The Wall Street Journal’s site today.

State licensing laws pose a particular burden on military spouses like Ms. Del Castillo. About 1 in 4 Americans need licenses to perform their occupations. In some states, florists, taxidermists and even fortune-tellers need licenses to operate. Far too often, these licenses serve less as safeguards of public health and safety than as barriers to entry. In many cases, the state-appointed boards that issue licenses are stocked with industry insiders seeking to restrict competition.

Aggressive licensing regimes limit the ability of Americans to move from state to state. Because different states’ requirements can vary greatly for the same profession, and many states require new residents to undergo new training in order to continue working, people can find themselves unemployed by simply migrating across state lines.

By now this news on occupational licensing goes beyond a vague, I’ve-heard-that-before déjà vu feeling. It’s become a glaring problem identified by all sides of the political equation — well, except for industry special interests.

This issue of interstate migration, especially regarding military spouses who frequently have to change residencies, is just one of the many negative unintended consequences of a strict licensing regime.

Today might be Groundhog Day, but there’s no reason for this issue to be “Groundhog Day.” It’s time to modernize North Carolina’s outdated occupational licensing system in many ways:

  • repeal licenses we don’t need
  • gear occupational regulation to the least intrusive necessary, tailored specifically to address whatever legitimate safety concerns are involved — three states have just passed reforms along these lines
  • hold off starting new licenses and subject all licenses to sunset with periodic review
  • find ways to make remaining licenses less burdensome: reduce licensing fees, education and experience requirements, examination requirements, and background requirements when possible

Nota bene: Last year the state Senate unanimously passed a bill to address the problems military spouses face with state licensure, but the state House turned it into a bill about parking garage construction, stormwater runoff, and the Lincolnton-Lincoln Airport. The House did pass a bill to make it easier for military spouses to get a teacher’s license, but it has not progressed in the Senate.