Last week, Ohio was the most recent state to reduce barriers to work through recognition of out-of-state occupational licenses. The State Policy Network reported that:

On January 27, 2020, the Ohio governor signed Senate Bill 7, legislation that allows military spouses who move to Ohio to continue working in their profession of choice—without being forced to comply with layers of bureaucratic red tape.

This is great news for military spouses, who can have difficulty finding jobs as their families are moved from one duty station to another across the country, something I have witnessed first-hand as a military spouse myself. But we cannot forget the many other individuals who are facing difficulties with occupational licenses. 

Most states, including Ohio, have a variety of requirements set in place for different occupations.  While some occupations, such as a nurse or doctor, should require licenses as they could pose a threat to people’s health and safety, most occupations have no need for such oversight. Not only do many occupations unnecessarily require licenses, the requirements are arbitrary and vary widely from state to state. 

Instead of protecting the American public, licensing requirements create obstacles to individuals seeking to start a new career. By limiting the number of individuals pursuing certain occupations through exorbitant fees and hours of training, the licensing boards reduce the competition and work against the free-market forces that would produce the best choices for Americans.  

The Buckeye Institute, the state-based think tank that worked tirelessly to get the occupational licensing bill passed in Ohio, will continue to push for universal occupational license reciprocity in the state, extending the license recognition to all residents in Ohio, not just military spouses. Hopefully Ohio will realize the disservice that unnecessary regulation is to its citizens and take down the barriers to work, joining the ranks of Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Montana. 

We should celebrate this first step in reform in Ohio but we cannot be content with only helping military spouses. States need to recognize the need for reform that can benefit all of their residents and enact comprehensive occupational licensing reform, removing the arbitrary and unnecessary requirements for many different licenses.