Though traditionally recognized as the domain of state (and sometimes local) governments, there are opportunities for the federal government to help roll back occupational licensing requirements in the states. For example, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation that would prevent states from removing occupational licenses from workers who are delinquent on student federal student loan payments.
Another piece of legislation, the New Hope and Opportunity through the Power of Employment Act (New HOPE Act) was introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and signed into law this week by President Trump.
provides additional authority to state governors receiving an existing, bipartisan appropriation of discretionary funds for career and technical education, giving them the discretion to use this money for the identification, consolidation, or elimination of licenses or certifications which provide limited consumer protection and pose an unnecessary barrier to entry for aspiring career and technical education workers.
The law is similar to a Department of Labor grant program giving money to states so they can study the effects of occupational licensing. While this legislation wouldn’t do anything to directly change licensing requirements, these grants help to expose the costs and consequences of the current licensing regime to further scrutiny and build momentum for real reform.