Last year Governor Raimondo’s budget included the deregulation of several occupations by eliminating the state licensing requirements. A move for which she should be commended. While some of the positions still require national level certifications for which state-level licensure was obviously redundant. Others do not.

However the issue is back, there is currently legislation pending that would reinstate licensing for barbers, hairdressers, cosmeticians, manicurists and estheticians. Both S2456 and H7626 have been introduced to which S2456 is Scheduled for hearing and/or consideration on 02/23/2016.

Both of these Bills re-establish requirements for apprentices and instructors to be licensed, meeting requirements outlined by the State. They do not address those that engage in the practice of barbering, hairdressing, and cosmetic therapy and/or manicuring, or esthetics since those positions, unfortunately, were never deregulated and still require licenses.

This issue was a hot topic on the Tara Granahan show today. Tara was obviously in the pro-licensing camp. Callers on both sides of the issue explained their cases. From listening to the callers, it was interesting to note that most that were pro-license are those that are currently practicing in the areas affected, even complaining about competition. They are taking the typical protectionist stance and using the barriers put up by the state to stifle competition, further proving the long-held libertarian argument against the occupational licensing scam.

We see this phenomenon in a parallel issue that is taking place in other places around the country. Where licensed taxi drivers are fighting to regulate or outright ban Uber and Lyft drivers, eliminating competition that has proven to be a better service.

There were also the callers complaining that this was a revenue stream for the State apparently not understanding the bureaucracy that is required to administer and enforce the licensing requirement. Speaking of enforcement, one or two callers stated that the license violations weren’t being enforced to begin with. So that tells us not there were not enough violations taking place to generate the revenue to justify funding of enforcement.

Having heard enough, we sent a tweet this afternoon to Ms. Granahan:

So it’s about fairness? These people spent money to get their license and now they no longer need the license. By that logic, what is the criteria for stopping forward progress and bad legislation because at some time in history someone had to shell out money for a ridiculous policy/law/license that should never have existed in the first place?

The deeper point to make here is the idea of people going to the government to validate their skills and/or ability to perform in a particular occupation. As libertarians, we understand that the free market provides the best solutions. If these industries do indeed benefit from things such as set standards, levels of experience and specific training, then that is best left up to private sector professional associations to which interested parties can join. They can validate their skills experience and hang their certificate on the wall for their customers to see.

Finally, we will leave you with this from The Institute for Justice:

Some of Rhode Island’s requirements also appear overly burdensome compared to other occupations the state licenses. For example, it takes only 37 days of training to become an emergency medical technician, but nearly twice that time to earn a manicurist license. Barbers, cosmetologists, skin care specialists and massage therapists must undergo even more training.

We here at Liberty RI do not support the proposed legislation and urge you to contact your representative as well as the sponsors of the bill.