The Idaho Freedom Foundation has been a consistent voice in opposition to much of the new occupational licensing legislation that has come before the legislature.
We faced off against Rep. Kelley Packer during the 2015 legislative session over House Bill 152, licensing sign language interpreters, which she sponsored. The bill went so far as to require a family to pay a licensed interpreter to assist another hearing impaired family member while engaged in any general commercial setting – like buying a TV.
The bill also would have prevented parents from interpreting for their kids at the doctor’s office or the dentist.
I will also note that the bill was opposed by an administrator of the state court system as unworkable for Idaho’s far flung court system.
Gov. Butch Otter eventually vetoed the bill, and the Legislature didn’t attempt an override.
The bill did allow IFF to make a larger point, one that has been lost on Packer and those who support the growing occupational licensure trend in Idaho and many other states.
In the US in the 1950’s about 5 percent of occupations required a license, now it is about 33 percent. Licensure is surely necessary in some fields but not necessarily in 1 out of 3 jobs in the U.S. Licensure can used as an anti-competitive barrier to entry, as has been noted by the US Supreme Court.
Lest anyone think IFF supports rogue cosmetologists or plumbers running amok, remember private certification, where applicants must prove their skills to a professional organization, serves as a low-cost alternative to government licensing.
IFF believes that folks driving an automobile or flying a plane need to be licensed as do many medical professionals.
However, the benefits that accrue to the public from additional occupational licensure must exceed the costs borne by the public. Even the proponents of the sign language bill admitted that initially the costs for sign language would increase once the legislation passed.
Licensure has compliance costs and it is important for Idahoans to remember they ultimately pay these costs.
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