Working Group “Important First Step” In Reforming Licensing

By Caleb Taylor

How should Arkansas decrease barriers to jobs and entrepreneurship? 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the formation of the Red Tape Reduction Working Group on Feb. 16th to study state occupational requirements. Its next meeting is on Monday, April 23rd.

In an op-ed published in Arkansas Business on March 26th, ACRE Director and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. David Mitchell and ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder discuss why reforming occupational licensing burdens is such a worthy goal.

According to  “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens From Occupational Licensing” by the Institute for Justice published on Nov. 16th 2017, Arkansas has the third most burdensome occupational licensing structure in the nation for low and moderate income occupations.

Mitchell and Snyder note that job applicants pay these high costs in “time, money and effort” while consumers pay in the form of higher prices and fewer options.

Mitchell and Snyder write:

“Let’s keep licensing where there is strong evidence for impact on safety but only there. The working group should look at all of the cases where Arkansas’ licensing regulations exceed other states’ requirements. It can then ask, “Is there evidence that these additional regulations make us safer?” We might find that the answer is often “no.” At a minimum, we can reduce our regulations to the levels of other states.

Now’s the chance for lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to truly reform our state’s occupational licensing laws. Arkansas would be a better place to live and work without these onerous regulations.”

Snyder was a co-author of “The State of Occupational Licensing: Arkansas” with researchers from the the Mercatus Center. The report gives an overview of occupational licensing in Arkansas and makes suggestions for reform. Dr. Snyder is also the author of the ACRE Research Paper, The Effects of Occupational Licensing in Arkansas, and a co-author with Mitchell of the ACRE Policy Review Unnatural Rights in the Natural State, which both examine this issue in more detail. Snyder is also the co-author with UCA graduate Saliou N. Ouattara of “Occupational Licensure and Property Crime” which will be published in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy. This paper examines the relationship between licensing requirements and high property crime rates.

You can read Mitchell’s and Snyder’s entire op-ed here.