J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · May 18, 2018

Late Thursday, the Louisiana House of Representatives unanimously approved HB 748, a bill that would review the state’s burdensome and often arbitrary licenses. The bill now heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who endorsed an earlier version of the bill as a way to provide “regulatory relief” for Louisiana entrepreneurs.

Sponsored by Rep. Julie Emerson, the final version of HB 748 would require the governor to review at least 20 percent of Louisiana’s occupational regulations every year over the next five years. According to research by the Institute for Justice, Louisiana is the 6th most broadly and onerously licensed state. In fact, occupational licensing is now one of the biggest barriers to finding jobs, with almost 1 in 3 workers in Louisiana either licensed or certified.

“Although we wish Rep. Emerson’s original review bill (which passed the House with only nine votes against it) had become law, the final product is still a valuable step forward,” noted Artur Davis, senior consultant for legislation and coalitions at the Institute for Justice. “By signing this bill, Gov. Edwards would have an important and revived tool to rigorously examine the numerous burdens inflicted on Louisianans by occupational licensing. We stand ready and are eager to help the governor fulfill the bill’s mandate as he works to reduce government obstacles to Louisiana’s home-grown entrepreneurs.”

Louisiana is not the only state looking to overhaul occupational licensing. Last month, Nebraska enacted a comprehensive sunset review process for its licensing laws that is very similar to the one originally proposed by Rep. Emerson. In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam approved a pilot program aimed at reducing regulatory requirements and costs by 25 percent over the next three years.

“With HB 748, the governor’s findings and recommendations would provide the vehicle for other public interest advocates committed to creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity to join us,” Davis added. “Together, we will ask legislative leaders to address the biggest and most important labor market issue in Louisiana.”

Nationwide, calls to reform America’s sclerotic licensing laws have come from a strikingly diverse chorus, including the Trump Administration’s Labor Department, the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.