Red Tape Reduction Process Begins

By Caleb Taylor

Arkansas legislators will begin their “sunset review” of occupational licenses that might be keeping Arkansans from working in certain industries Thursday.

The Arkansas Legislative Council Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee was created by Act 600, also known as The Red Tape Reduction Sunrise and Sunset Act, which passed both the House and Senate with no dissenting votes. It was signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 29th.

The subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. in Room A of the MAC Building at the State Capitol on Thursday.

The law authorizes the Arkansas Legislative Council to review one-sixth of all licensing laws on an annual basis to see if there are less burdensome ways to protect Arkansans.

Arkansans face some of the USA’s heaviest restrictions on what occupations they can work in.

Arkansas is the third most broadly licensed state and has the sixth most burdensome licensing requirements, according to the Institute for Justice’s “License to Work” study.

In an op-ed entitled “Red tape reduced,” published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on May 25th, ACRE Policy Analyst Alex Kanode explains the reform process implemented by the law:

This act gives Arkansans a pathway to future reform by creating sunset reviews. These are reviews of each individual license on a regular basis. Every year, the Arkansas Legislative Council will examine one-sixth of all licenses on a rotating basis and check whether there are less burdensome alternative regulations than licensing that will still protect Arkansans. If the license is necessary, the council will provide recommendations to streamline or improve application processes or reduce the burden of licensing requirements. The improvements made by sunset reviews would help people wanting to work in the licensed fields, but it would also help consumers across Arkansas.” 

Kanode was also quoted in an article entitled “Professional licensing due a state review” published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on June 3rd about Act 600. In the article, Kanode said the act would require “vigilance by members of the subcommittee to ensure that it leads to meaningful reform.”

To see measures of the burden of occupational licensing in Arkansas, look at this research paper entitled “The Effects of Arkansas Occupational Licensure Regulations” by UCA Associate Professor and ACRE Scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder. Snyder was a co-author of “The State of Occupational Licensing: Arkansas” with researchers from the Mercatus Center. This report gives an overview of occupational licensing in Arkansas and makes suggestions for reform.

As ACRE Affiliate Marc Kilmer shows in “Occupational Licensing Reform Across the United States,” these reforms are rapidly happening across other states.

For more on this topic, check out our labor market regulation research page.