What Changes Will Arkansas See to Occupational Licensing?

By Caleb Taylor

Arkansas legislators just wrapped up their first round of sunset reviews of Arkansas’s occupational licenses. What changes are in store?

A just-released policy statement, “Occupational Licensing and Arkansas’s Act 600,” by ACRE Economic Policy Analyst Alex Kanode discusses the reforms and missed opportunities of the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee’s first round of sunset reviews. 

The 2019 Arkansas Legislature passed Act 600, mandating sunset reviews of every licensed occupation in Arkansas. 

To find out what recommendations the subcommittee approved unanimously in their final meeting of 2020, you can check out their Final Report to the Arkansas Legislative Council

In addition to reviewing what happened in the subcommittee’s first round of sunset reviews, Kanode offers advice to subcommittee members on how to decide what levels of occupational licensing are appropriate as they continue their review for years to come.

Kanode highlights Texas’s sunset review process as a worthwhile example to follow. According to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, sunset reviews have saved Texas state and federal taxpayers’ $1 billion since 1977. 

Texas’s Sunset Advisory Commission has also saved $19 in federal and state taxpayer dollars for every $1 appropriated to the commission since 1985.

Kanode writes: 

The ALC Occupational Licensing Review Subcommittee should keep Texas’s $19-to-$1 benefit in mind, and perhaps try to beat it. Arkansas legislators have had a good start in removing red tape, but there’s more to cut through. Members of the legislature have a great opportunity to tailor Arkansas’s regulations to Arkansas’s needs: a strong economy, abundant job opportunities, competitive prices for consumers, and protection from unsafe service providers.”

You can read the entire policy statement, “Occupational Licensing and Arkansas’s Act 600”, here

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

Kanode and ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder discussed in “Show-Me the way” (published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on October 22, 2020) a recent occupational licensing reform bill passed by the Missouri legislature, known as universal licensure recognition.

Arkansas’s occupational licensing burdens are measured in this research paper entitled “The Effects of Arkansas Occupational Licensure Regulations” by 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.