Preserving Tennesseans’ Right to Earn a Living


March 24, 2016 12:54PM

At Beacon, we work day in and day out to break down barriers that make it harder for Tennesseans to flourish. Standing in the way of many Tennesseans is the ever-increasing requirement that they get government permission to work. Back in the day, just one in 20 people had to get a government license to do a job. Today, that number has exploded to one in three. Locksmiths, manicurists, land surveyors, and even “shampoo technicians” must get a license to work. (More on that last one here).

Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) are sponsoring a bill that would stem this troubling tide. The Right to Earn a Living Act would require the legislative Government Operations Committees to review all state licensing regulations. It would direct the committees to ensure that licensing laws and rules actually protect the health, safety, or welfare of Tennesseans, as opposed to protecting those already licensed from competition (as many licensing laws do).

This move is especially helpful for low- and middle-income Tennesseans. The Volunteer State requires a license for 53 different occupations impacting these Tennesseans. These laws make it harder for people to get good jobs, limit choices and drive up costs for consumers, and insert government where it doesn’t belong. In fact, the Institute for Justice calculates that licensing reduces job opportunities for 15,000 Tennesseans and drives up prices for services by as much as 15%.

Authorizing the legislative review committees to roll up their sleeves and tackle these burdens is good for all Tennesseans. It could help ensure that more people have access to good-paying jobs, give consumers more choices at lower prices, and reduce the size of state government.

If the Right to Earn a Living Act passes the legislature, Beacon will get to work helping the Government Operations Committees roll back burdensome, unfair, and unnecessary licensing laws that keep people out of work. It’s time to empower Tennesseans with the right to earn that living.