Occupational Licensing in Kentucky
What is Occupational Licensing?
Occupational licensing is a permit issued by the government that allows someone to work in a particular field. In Kentucky , nearly one in five workers must now get an occupational license before they can legally do their job. But many of these licenses are too strict, and they don’t even improve service quality or protect the public from actual harm.
Licenses Create Barriers to Working in Kentucky
Occupational licenses often impose high barriers to entry. That makes it much harder for people to find work or to start a new business. According to the Institute for Justice’s report, License to Work, the average license for low- and moderate-income jobs in Kentucky takes 404 days of education and experience. And those required classes can be very expensive.
For instance, cosmetology is one of the state’s most popular licenses. In Kentucky, it takes at least 1,500 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in the state costs $15,662, while the average student takes out $6,124 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of cosmetologists make less than $23,460 a year.
Licensing Lawsuits by the Institute for Justice in Kentucky
IJ successfully represented John Rosemond, a family psychologist with a long-running, nationally syndicated advice column, in his fight against censorship by Kentucky’s Psychology Board. The Board considered his newspaper advice column the “unlicensed practice of psychology” and issued a cease-and-desist letter to Rosemond, threatening fines and even jail time if he continued. The Board also tried to stop Rosemond from calling himself a licensed psychologist, even though Rosemond is a licensed psychologist in North Carolina. But in a major First Amendment victory, a federal judge sided with Rosemond and blasted the Board’s “regulatory zeal.”
Recent Licensing Reforms in Kentucky
Kentucky has exempted hair braiding from the state’s licensing laws, repealed statutes that let the states revoke licenses for people who failed to pay back their student loans, and eased licensing barriers for people with criminal records.
Can You Get a License to Work with a Criminal Record in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, applicants can only be denied an occupational license if they’ve been convicted of a crime that “directly relates” to the license. Licensing boards must also offer applicants an opportunity for a hearing before they can be disqualified. Overall, Kentucky received a C+ for its protections in IJ’s Barred from Working report.
How You Can Help
If you are an Kentucky resident and you want to help fight against these unfair and unnecessary licensing laws, there are a few ways you can get involved. You can donate to the Institute for Justice, sign up for our email updates, and share our message with your network. Together, we can make sure that all Kentucky workers have the economic liberty they deserve.
Kentucky OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING CASES
Economic Liberty | First Amendment | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech
Psychology Board Censors Advice Column: America’s Longest-Running Advice Columnist Files Free Speech Lawsuit After Being Threatened with Jail and Told to Stop Publishing His Column in Kentucky
John Rosemond’s lawsuit defends freedom of speech and freedom of the press from government officials who believe that it can be a crime in America to express an opinion in a newspaper.
Kentucky Occupational Licensing In The News
Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in Kentucky ?
Are you not able to exercise your job or open a business because of burdensome occupational licensing requirements in your state?
Are you forced to waste valuable time and money to become licensed?
We might be able to help.
If you want IJ to review your case, please share your situation through the following form.
The Institute for Justice is a nonprofit, public-interest law firm dedicated to the protection of constitutional rights, including the right of individuals to produce, procure, and consume homemade foods free from unnecessary and anti-competitive regulations.
Occupational Licensing Research
License to Work 3
This third edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report finds that for lower-income Americans, licensing continues to be widespread, burdensome and—frequently—irrational. It also provides a blueprint for meaningful licensing reform.
Cosmetology | Economic Liberty
Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs
Cosmetology is one of the most widely and onerously regulated occupations for lower-income workers, yet little research has explored the experiences of aspiring beauty workers. This first-of-its-kind study takes advantage of federal educational…
Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing
Barred From Working
Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for ex-offenders to find work, thwarting their chances of successful reentry.
Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing
At What Cost
Not only do state occupational licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and money earning a license instead of earning a living, they also impose real economic costs. This study takes advantage…
Learn more about our Economic Liberty work.
Economic liberty—the right to earn a living in the occupation of your choice without unnecessary government interference—is at the heart of the American Dream. Unfortunately, all too many entrepreneurs find that this dream is under constant attack by unreasonable licensing, permitting and other requirements that stand in the way of honest competition.Learn More
Reforming Occupational Licensing Nationwide
All Americans deserve the opportunity to earn an honest living. Yet occupational licenses, which are essentially permission slips from the government, routinely stand in the way of honest enterprise. Since our founding, IJ has fought to roll back oppressive occupational-licensing rules in more than two dozen distinct occupations, ranging all the way from tax preparers to florists to traditional African hair braiders. Learn more about IJ’s occupational-licensing work in all 50 states:
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