Tennessee ranked #1 for reducing occupational licenses!

April 19, 2018 11:34AM

In 2012, Tennessee was ranked the 13th worst state for occupational licensing burdens in the country.  The ranking, which was produced by the Institute for Justice and Mercatus Center and measured both the number of occupations licensed (the breadth) as well as the stringency of the requirements to obtain the license (the burden), was a black eye on Tennessee’s limited government image.

Since that time, Beacon Impact, the sister advocacy organization of the Beacon Center, has been working incessantly to scale back our state’s licensing requirements, which we know block about 15,000 Tennesseans from accessing a good job every year. We have sued over the state’s shampoo tech and animal massage therapy licenses and shepherded through repeals of both. In addition to that, we also passed the Right to Earn A Living Act in 2016- a piece of legislation that requires the Tennessee General Assembly to review all of the licensing regulations put in place by unelected boards and issue opinions on which ones go too far.

Not only that, but this session Beacon Impact successfully prevented the implementation of new licensing requirements, defeating bills that would have expanded Tennessee’s Auctioneer license and created an Art Therapist license this session.

And it looks as though our hard work is starting to pay off! A new Mercatus study comparing the breadth and burden of licensure requirements across states found that Tennessee was number one in the reduction of both. Meanwhile, only 10 other states decreased their requirements during this same time period of 2012-2017, and in only 4 of those states was this reduction significant.

While 40 states and the District of Columbia have actually increased their licensing requirements, Tennessee reduced the breadth and burden of its licensing by a whopping 5 percent. This is especially important as we know that these licenses often hurt low to middle-income earners the most.

We could not be more proud of this tangible result of our hard work to advance free markets and limited government in the state. But while we take time to celebrate today, our work is nowhere near through.

To date, Tennessee still has 110 occupational licenses on the books. These licenses cost thousands of dollars and take extensive amounts of time to acquire before an individual is simply allowed to work in their chosen field. And the state continues to levy hefty fines against those who cannot afford these requirements and work without first paying the government or obtaining their permission. We’ve seen what we can do in just five years, let’s double it.