Welcome to the party, pal: liberal Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has joined the bandwagon to streamline through reduction occupational licensing in Louisiana. Regardless of his reason for doing so, better late than never.
To his credit, it’s been a small bandwagon, as virtually no Louisiana legislators – Edwards served in the House of Representatives from 2008-16 – recently have tried to do anything to reduce the number of occupations requiring licensing. In fact, during his two terms in the House, eight discrete bills came forward establishing new occupational licensing while none actually tried eliminating any (a couple of dozen tweaked requirements, more often marginally eliminating these than adding to them). Six of these didn’t make it out of committee, and of the two that did Edwards voted against
one and for
No real movement has occurred during his two years as governor, either. As a result of this standstill, Louisiana remains the most overregulated state for occupational licensing, as measured by theInstitute for Justice
. In fact, the only significant attenuation of licensing in the state over the past decade has occurred because of the Institute’s intervention
, in putting pressure on lawmakers to pare substantially the florist license requirements and in winning in court on behalf of monks who wanted to make and sell caskets.
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Licensing too often turns into something less about consumer protection and more about a barrier to entry for businesses, where existing providers can reduce competition. Some services clearly demand licensing to protect the public, but does Louisiana really need it in the cases of selling flowers, or interior decorating, or in pest control spraying, or installing electronic home entertainment systems?