• Wesley Hottot
    Former Senior Attorney

Bureaucratic Barbed Wire

Texas has historically celebrated economic liberty—the right to pursue your chosen occupation free from unreasonable government interference. But the state is increasingly restricting the economic liberty long enjoyed by its citizens.

The trouble is occupational licensing—when entrepreneurs must secure the government’s permission before practicing a trade. This means Texans must often jump through a series of irrational, arbitrary and costly hoops merely to practice an innocuous trade, such as braiding hair or repairing a computer. The state now requires many entrepreneurs to obtain unnecessary and expensive education, wade through confusing and often conflicting administrative rules and pay harsh fees (and even face jail time) for the privilege of going into business. Occupational licensing is making it harder—much harder than it needs to be—for Texans to open a business, create well-paying jobs or switch careers.

The number of occupations licensed by the state of Texas has multiplied twelvefold in less than 65 years. There were only 43 non-alcohol-related trades that required licensure in 1945; today there are 514. These newly regulated industries include such diverse pursuits as athletic trainer, geoscientist, air conditioner technician, funeral director and mold assessor, among many others…

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