As coronavirus and violent protests pillage the American economy and moral, the country is in desperate need to get back to work. Thankfully, two states are making it easier for individuals to do that, promoting reforms that would last far beyond riots and a pandemic.
In taking steps to simplify occupational licensing requirements, Minnesota and Florida are removing government barriers that needlessly make it more difficult for professionals to operate. These unnecessary and often costly burdens, which differ from state to state, are long overdue for reform.
In Minnesota, where civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd has added to an already dire state of economic affairs, Democrat Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill (SF 2898/HF 3202) into law that exempts hair stylists and makeup artists from licensing requirements. The law will impact more than 1,000 workers in the state.
As Forbes explains, the requirements for cosmetologists to legally operate were ridiculous:
Previously, the state cosmetology board decreed that providing hair and makeup services at social gatherings required three different licenses and permits: a license in esthetics for makeup or a cosmetologist license for hair; a salon manager’s license; and a special events permit.
In turn, obtaining those credentials took between 600 and 1,550 hours of classes and could cost upwards of $20,000 in tuition at a cosmetology school. The board even fined freelancers and threatened them with cease-and-desist orders.
In addition to simplifying these requirements, the law also enables makeup artists and hair stylists to offer at-home services without a license, which is particularly important in the era of social distancing.
The Sunshine State is moving towards adopting similar reforms on a larger scale. According to the Florida Courier, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is making the issue a priority in this year’s legislative session. This would impact interior designers, cosmetologists, hair braiders and more.
“Many of these licensure requirements have no relevant impact on public health and safety,” DeSantis said, adding:
Rather, they hurt Floridians by restricting employment opportunities, raising the prices of goods and services, and inhibiting consumer choice. At the end of the day there is a role to have occupational licensing, but that occupational licensing should be designed to protect the public safety, consumers. It should not be used to create a guild that keeps people out and prevents them from realizing their dreams.
Proponents of occupational licensing requirements often point to the legitimate health and safety concerns as justification for the barriers to certain professions. However, many of these requirements are duplicative, discouraging and unnecessary to safely operate. Hence, politicians on both sides agree they’re long overdue for reform.
The fact that reforms are finally moving forward in Minnesota, a liberal state, and Florida, a conservative state, is an encouraging sign. As COVID-19 continues to drive the country towards Great Depression-like unemployment rates and riots add to our economic strife, politicians need to focus on policies that can unite Americans and make it easier to earn a decent living.
Minnesota and Florida are off to a good start. Let’s hope more states follow suit.