As jobs continue to slip away in the Chinese coronavirus economy, one state is doing something about it, tearing down unnecessary and often duplicative government-mandated prerequisites for work.
Earlier this month, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed HB 2046 into law, a historic measure that is likely to attract new workers to the state. The law removes stringent requirements workers had to meet in order to pursue employment in a wide variety of professions such as cosmetology, nursing, interior design, fitness, therapy, health and more.
These outdated government regulations, known as occupational licensing requirements, subject workers to education, training, testing, and fees needed to work in certain fields. Prior to Missouri’s landmark legislation, these requirements were nontransferable from state to state, meaning workers had to start over anytime they moved or relocated their business.
Missouri’s new law enables anyone who held a valid occupational license in another state for at least one year to submit for a reciprocity license application, so long as there were minimal education requirements in the former licensing state.
Instead of different education, training, testing requirements, workers are asked to take a Missouri exam, when applicable to their chosen profession. Because they’re often subjected to multiple relocations, military spouses are exempt from all relicensing requirements.
In addition to granting licensing reciprocity, the new Missouri law adopts the Fresh Start Act, which bans professional registration boards from denying individuals with a criminal history a professional license, unless that criminal record has to do with that profession. (Violent and sexual offenses are excluded.)
Building on the Trump administration’s effort to reduce recidivism in our prison system, this reform makes it easier for former inmates who have completed their sentences to have a second chance at become contributing members of society.
And finally, the law incorporates the Expanded Workforce Act, which grants anyone who has completed the 8th grade, an apprenticeship program, and passed an exam the ability to obtain a license. One of the most common barriers to obtaining a license to work in a certain field is the inability to access education.
The new law will take effect Jan. 1, 2021, and could majorly disrupt the Missouri economy—for all the right reasons.
Scholars, politicians, and commentators often refer to occupational licensing requirements as “legalized cartels,” infamous “for their proclivity to reduce supply and raise prices without producing any corresponding increase in quality,” as Kevin Dayaratna noted in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
In the COVID economy, it’s long past time to reform them and make it easier for Americans to work. On that front, Missouri is leading the way. Let’s hope other states take notice.