Gov’t Standing in the Way of A Basic Freedom

Governments across the country are standing in the way of a basic freedom: your freedom to work.


It’s discouraging when government makes it hard to improve your life. Licensing rules have created costly barriers that are preventing hardworking Iowans from filling many job openings. Iowa’s government needs to take a close look at what they are doing to so many skilled workers.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the bi-partisan push to reform our nation’s occupational licensing laws. It’s a need Iowans for Tax Relief has worked on for several years. Iowans shouldn't have industry insiders forcing months or years of training on them before starting careers. Even when citing “health and safety” concerns, many proponents of licensing are simply trying to limit their own competition or even profit from forcing prospective workers to pile-up hours and hours of costly training.

What Iowans do need, however, is for legislators to review and reduce, or even eliminate, licensing requirements that are redundant or have no impact on public health or safety. At a time when employers are struggling to find employees, there is a real opportunity to for Iowa’s government to remove a heavy burden on workers.

Here are some of the highlights from the Wall Street Journal article:

… the need to hold a license to work in many different roles blocks Americans from taking well-paying jobs.

… unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions impede economic mobility.

…those rules make it difficult to enter the field.

…licensing requirements often have more to do with intentional barriers to entry than safety.

To be fair, it’s not that Iowa legislators have been complacent on job licensing. In 2020, Iowa’s House and Senate delivered a comprehensive licensing reform bill to Governor Kim Reynolds that she signed into law. Recognition of out-of-state licenses, fee waivers for low-income applicants, and an easing of restrictions for certain applicants with a conviction history were all part of this important legislation. But more work remains and we don’t have to look far for a blueprint on how to accomplish it.

Our neighbors in Nebraska passed a new law in 2018 that requires state legislative committees to regularly review job licensing requirements in order to identify less-restrictive regulatory alternatives and to maintain reporting from state licensing boards. In other words, elected officials just across the Missouri River now determine if the regulations placed on workers are actually necessary and appropriate. Similar legislation has been advanced in Iowa, including in 2021 when the Iowa Senate passed a bill that also made it through the State Government Committee in the Iowa House.

2021 Occupational Licensing Reform Legislation:

Iowa took bold efforts to improve Iowa’s licensing situation in 2020 by making it easier for skilled workers from other states to move to Iowa and continue working. It is time to take the next step for Iowans who are already living here who desire to join a licensed profession. Excessive requirements create a costly burden for hardworking Iowans. Regular reviews of Iowa’s licenses and licensing requirements will ensure there are no unnecessary hurdles for getting Iowa back to work.


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