Held back by Red Tape 3: Policy Options for North Carolina

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.

This article was posted in Economy by Clark Riemer on March 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at https://www.nccivitas.org/2012/held-back-by-red-tape-3-policy-options-for-north-carolina/

Comments on this article

  • 1

    Steve Mar 23, 2012 at 12:31

    Great points. I’d just submit that car sales people do require licensure (no test but background checks), as do car dealers (with Ind. dealers requiring 16 hrs of pre-licensing and 8 hrs of annual continuing ed). The mobile home sales license requirement is due to the similarities in real estate. Before that license requirement many citizens were defrauded by unethical sales tactics.
    I’ve represented several potential car dealers having difficulty obtaining license due to the rather arbitrary and capricious application of “convictions involving moral turpitude”. As an example: When a former dealer is fined 100k for unfair and deceptive trade practices gets a new license, while a 43 year old with a 22 year old conviction of possession is denied…there’s some subjectivity going on.
    I’ll reserve comment on Inspection Stations, which could encompass an entire essay on that silly systems enforcement, requirements, and quasi-judicial appeals process.

  • 2

    Bill Mar 28, 2012 at 9:39

    Some of these are examples of be careful what you ask for, you may get it. Statewide licenses are better than some professions being unregulated, but still left to local governments to be taxed for their business activities. In these cases, it is only a tax and no regulation for the benefit of the public. If a bad practioner gets slapped by the court system, he just moves to another town and does it again. Business regulation has a place in today’s business climate. An unethical, incompetent attorney can cost you your freedom, an unethical, incompetent real estate broker can cost you your home, an unethical, incompetent auctioneer can cost you your life savings and an unethical, incompetent doctor can cost you your life. These occupational licensing boards (as well as others) are very necessary to regulate these professions because the court system is too slow and too expensive to be effective.

  • 3

    Richard, Morganton, NC
    Richard, Morganton, NC Mar 28, 2012 at 9:39

    As a canidate for the NC Senate, I am in total favor of cutting the licensing to a very few. Let the people decide on who will stay in business. I have always said “Vote with your dollars”.

  • 4

    Rattlerjake Mar 28, 2012 at 10:12

    The majority of licenses are to create a revenue stream for government officials to spend, nothing more. We have more than enough laws (both state and federal)on the books to govern unethical and illegal activity, but these laws are seldom enforced and the “crooks” seldom prosecuted, hence a supposed need for licenses, yet even some of those that are licensed screw people. If our judicial system was made simpler (no lawyer needed), so that an individual could file a complaint and have it heard in a reasonable time for a reasonable cost, and the “crook” prosecuted effectively (fined, jailed, forced to reimburse plaintiff, and/or put out of business), most of these problems would disappear, without the need for licenses.

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