After Hurricane Isaac blew through Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal temporarily suspended licensing rules to allow EMTs to travel from other states and care for Louisianans. Similarly, after hurricanes ravaged Florida in 2004, then-Gov. Jeb Bush sought to ease licensing rules for roofers.
Professional licensing supposedly protects vulnerable people from the unscrupulous by putting government between us and those we would hire for services like plumbing and medicine. Yet, when unforeseen events like hurricanes make people even more vulnerable, authorities often ease or suspend licensing rules. These examples bear testimony to the fact that professional licensing hurts consumers of licensed professional services. When free enterprise prevails and demand rises, more individuals offer their services, even moving across states if necessary. Licensing prevents this, and leads to higher prices, lost opportunities, lives unsaved, and roofs unrepaired.
At a time when health care costs have risen faster than general inflation for decades, licensing laws prevent more people from practicing all aspects of medicine. A proposed law to allow out-of-state doctors to administer aid temporarily at a free clinic in Arizona was actively opposed by licensing advocates. Their offered “compromises” always consisted of red tape that would have prevented caring out-of-state doctors from bothering to come here.
Despite the heavy cost of licensing, every legislative session more professions seek to be licensed. Legislators should resist these efforts. Instead, if they want Arizona to be a land of opportunity, legislators should make private certification a more viable alternative to licensing and start repealing the licensing laws we already have on the books.
Goldwater Institute: Six Reforms to Occupational Licensing Laws
National Roofing Contractors Association: Florida roofing licensing laws complicate reroofing effort