House sends legislation reforming occupational licenses to Senate

Renner says lawmakers will decide what licenses are no longer needed.

House lawmakers passed legislation that may repeal many occupational licenses over the next four years. The review would start July 1, 2021 and go through July 1, 2024. 

The measure (CS/HB 707) advanced by a 85-29 vote. Under the bill, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Paul Renner, certain occupational licenses would be examined by legislators and decisions made about which licenses should be kept, changed or allowed to sunset.

Renner has said the core reason that governments require professional licenses to is make sure that people in certain industries like medicine or highway, road and bridge construction are qualified to do those jobs.

“So we will, in all cases, always want to license people who operate on our hearts or who design our bridges that we drive over,” he said. “Because if they get it wrong, someone could die, someone could get seriously hurt.”

But Renner says that there may be unreasonable regulatory barriers to employment that go beyond health and safety that deregulation of some occupational licenses could address.

“So if we’re concerned about making sure that we’re helping those who are in poverty, who perhaps are on public assistance, looking to work their way out,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re removing every possible barrier that government has put in their way by accumulating greater and greater training requirements that may not all relate to health and safety.”  

Renner said his bill is needed because the legislature hasn’t done a comprehensive sunset review of licenses for more than 20 years. Lawmakers would have to take affirmative action to keep a license from expiring. 

Rep. Joseph Geller opposed the legislation.

“I think it’s wrong for us to totally preempt local government from being able to act in a field where they have home rule power ,” he said. “They want to be allowed to act whether or not we specifically  authorize it by general law.”

Occupations looked at in 2021 include court reporters, auctioneers and paramedics. The next year licenses under review would include funeral directors, home inspectors and Acupuncturists. Lawmakers plan to review occupations like firefighters and certified public accountants in 2023 and registered nurses, pharmacists and midwives in 2024.

The bill now heads to the Senate. The committee substitute to the Senate companion (SB 1124) is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected].


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