Every legislative session, members of the General Assembly impose or increase various fees as alternative ways to raise revenue for the state government when raising taxes is not a palatable option. As we stand just months away from an election in which all seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs, incumbents – especially those in the Democratic majority – were extra cautious not to raise taxes during the latest legislative session. They did manage, however, to raise an assortment of fees, the latest being those required to obtain and renew a license to be an athletic trainer in the North Carolina.
Senate Bill 1210, introduced by Sen. David Hoyle (D-Gaston), would authorize the North Carolina Board of Athletic Trainer Examiners to increase licensure fees. The cost to obtain a license to be an athletic trainer will now be $200.00, up from $100.00. The fee to renew a license was also increased to $75.00 from $50.00. As many North Carolinians continue to try to scrape by in these trying economic times, fee increases, no matter how modest or excessive, are not helpful. Furthermore, if the costs associated with being an athletic trainer become too great, they may soon grow prohibitive, and fewer people will likely enter the field.
As a general rule, the General Assembly should refrain from imposing new licensing and regulations that unnecessarily restrict the free market and increase bureaucracy. If faced with a budget shortfall, lawmakers should cut government spending. If not, they need to raise revenue in an honest manner, such as by increasing taxes as opposed to surreptitiously raising fees or creating lotteries that only prey on the poor or destitute.
For its excessive fees and increased bureaucracy, SB 1210 is this week’s Bad Bill.