Local Governments Put Up Roadblocks, Too

Just because an occupation isn’t licensed at the state level doesn’t mean it isn’t licensed at all. Many counties and municipalities also license occupations, often quite onerously. Take Baltimore for example. The city of Baltimore requires licenses or registrations for at least 26 occupations in addition to the 59 low- and middle-income occupations licensed by the state of Maryland.

For example, Maryland is one of the 21 states that do not license auctioneers, but auctioneers in Baltimore must get a license from the city to work. And that license is relatively onerous, requiring $1,600 in licensing fees and either a one-year apprenticeship or an expensive training course. 1 Most of the 30 state auctioneer licenses are easier to obtain, requiring a comparatively low $278 in fees and 94 days of education and experience on average.

In addition to the types of burdens studied in this report, Baltimore imposes other restrictions, such as residency requirements and license caps. For example, an aspiring auctioneer must have been a Maryland resident for at least two years before becoming licensed. 2 Baltimore also makes it illegal for more than 50 auctioneers to be licensed in the city at any one time. 3 Pawnbrokers also face a cap—no more than 45 licensees are allowed—and must pay a steep licensing fee of $2,000 each year. 4

Many of the occupations Baltimore regulates are not among the 102 low- and middle-income occupations studied in this report. These include antique dealers, itinerant wholesale produce dealers, motor fuel retail dealers, scrap metal dealers, street entertainers, tattooists, towing services and waste haulers. 5

Not all of these regulations are as onerous as Baltimore’s auctioneer license, with most requiring only registration and fairly minor fees. However, they are all still barriers to be overcome. And Baltimore is far from the only locality to put up such roadblocks to work and entrepreneurship. 6 Although most occupational licensing happens at the state level, local governments also erect roadblocks making it difficult for their citizens to get down to business.