Gov. Moves to Eliminate Handful of Occupational Licenses

Sally Ladd earned a living managing vacation rental properties in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Her clients gladly pay Sally to manage their listings, but that livelihood was threatened when the Pennsylvania Department of State informed Sally she had to undergo a time-consuming and costly real estate licensing process and set up a physical space in Pennsylvania or shut down.

Similarly, a refugee mother in Pittsburgh is prohibited from opening a braiding salon without completing the onerous State Board of Cosmetology requirements. This despite the fact she previously operated a salon in Kenya.

Now Governor Wolf is seeking to reform Pennsylvania’s occupational licensing regulations to “ensure overly burdensome rules and fees do not block hardworking people … from getting a good job, supporting their families, and growing the economy.” This reform is imperative at a time when Pennsylvania has among the most broad licensing laws in the country.

The Wolf administration is proposing to eliminate license requirements for 13 occupations including;

  • Auctioneer
  • Barber
  • Cemetery Broker/Cemetery Salesperson
  • Campground Membership Salesperson
  • Natural Hair Braiding License
  • Orthotic fitter/Orthotist/Pedorthist/Prosthetist
  • Practitioner of Oriental Medicine
  • Rental Listing Referral Agent
  • Vehicle Factory Representative

The proposal also calls for an elimination of a 10-year ban on former felons obtaining an occupational license. Ex-offenders who are able to find stable employment after release are significantly less likely to reoffend. Thus, removing this ban is a necessary step to improving Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

With 1 in 5 Pennsylvanian workers required to obtain a professional license from government, overly burdensome occupational license requirements is an issue we should all be concerned about.

Moreover, there is a growing consensus among economists that occupational licenses are increasingly being used by special interests for rent-seeking, not consumer safety. Licensing barriers can drive up consumers costs by 10 to 18 percent depending on the industry. Occupational licensing imposes estimated additional costs of $203 billion to consumers annually and results in 2.8 million fewer jobs.

Pennsylvania’s broad licensing regime limits job opportunities for those who need them most. Governor Wolf’s recommendations should be the beginning of a long-term movement to end Pa.’s harmful licensing laws.