The Oklahoman Calls on State Government to Reduce Barriers to Work

“Oklahoma has too many laws and regulations that make little sense,” says the editorial board at The Oklahoman. The state’s largest daily newspaper referenced the Institute for Justice’s research in a recent plea to reduce burdensome regulations. The editorial stated:

“To cite one glaring example, Oklahoma is one of only 15 states requiring hair braiders to obtain a specialty “technician” license, according to the Institute for Justice. In Oklahoma, people must take 600 hours of coursework and pass a practical and written exam before charging money to braid hair. That produces no credible public benefit, but it does reduce competition for beauticians who provide other services.”

IJ Strategic Research Director Dick Carpenter co-authored the 2012 study “License to Work,” which examined occupational licensing requirements across the country. Carpenter says Oklahoma’s unnecessary occupational licenses make it harder for people to find jobs and to build new businesses that create jobs:

“Oklahoma forces too many of its citizens to spend a lot of time and effort earning a license instead of earning a living. And Oklahoma’s occupational licenses are not created because of a genuine threat to public health and safety or at the request of harmed consumers. Instead, those who are already working within industries lobby the state legislature asking for licensure of their occupations. This creates a fence around their occupations, thereby keeping competitors out and prices artificially higher as a result.”

He added that Oklahoma has a particularly unflattering history when it comes to putting barriers between entrepreneurs and jobs. In one case litigated by IJ, a judge gave a harsh critique of Oklahoma’s regulatory tendencies. Carpenter notes:

“In fact, it was a lawsuit over an Oklahoma occupational license that generated the now infamous observation by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: ‘While baseball may be the national pastime of the citizenry, dishing out special economic benefits to certain in-state industries remains the favored pastime of state and local governments.’”

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