How can we modify licensing in North Carolina? While it is doubtful that North Carolina will do away with occupational licensing in its entirety, common-sense reforms can alleviate many of the burdens that licensing places on our economy:
1) Eliminate occupational privilege licensing. Occupational privilege licensing serves no regulatory purpose. It is simply another $40 million tax on businesses in North Carolina. We should get rid of this barrier to job creation today.
2) Combine duplicate licensing boards.
The North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors only approved 17 new licenses in 2010. Boards with such low numbers of applicants should be combined with other larger boards in order to gain efficiencies of scale. Combining boards does not necessarily require that the separate license be done away, as one board can certify several different licenses. For example, the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, the State Board of Examiners of Fee-Based Practicing Pastoral Counselors, and the Board of Occupational Therapy all cover similar subject matter and could likely be combined to create a single board with lower total costs.
3) Eliminate boards with little disciplinary activity.
Twenty North Carolina licensure boards had less than five disciplinary actions in 2010. This suggests that those boards are doing very little to protect public safety. North Carolina should consider getting rid of boards that provide such small amounts of oversight.
4) Eliminate boards that only operate as “pass-through” credential machines.
Several licensure boards do not require their own exam but simply require passage of a national organization’s credentialing test. North Carolina should consider getting rid of boards that use other organizations’ tests and should simply allow the national organizations to be responsible for their own fields.
5) Eliminate boards that do not pass the laugh test.
It is unlikely that North Carolina would face serious health hazards if we allowed for unlicensed ginseng dealers. Why do we license mobile home salespeople but not car salespeople? Certainly faulty vehicles cause many more deaths each year than mobile homes. If the justification for licensing requires torturing logic, the state should look seriously at deregulating the profession.
6) Lower license fees and requirements.
Fees vary widely from board to board, with some boards bringing in significantly more in fees than they spend in expenses. These boards should lower their fees. Boards should also consider lowering training requirements. These requirements vary dramatically from state to state, though very little evidence of higher safety or quality exists in those states with higher requirements. For example, licensure as a manicurist in Iowa requires only 40 hours of training in Iowa, but 300 in North Carolina. Where occupational licensing is retained, requirements should be kept to common-sense levels.