Bill Callegari Trying to Trim Occupational Licensing in Texas

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Dec. 7 2012 12:27 PM

Bill Callegari Trying to Trim Occupational Licensing in Texas

Some promising news out of Texas as Representative Bill Callegari (R-Katy) tries to lift some of the occupational licensing rules in one of America's most licensed states:

For a state that prides itself on low regulation and job creation, Texas has more occupational licensing than most other states, Callegari said. Texans must be licensed to work in a variety of jobs, including as a shorthand court reporter, boxing timekeeper and shellfish processor. Texas regulates almost one-third of its workforce, which is higher than the national trend, according to a 2009 report by his committee.
Two broadly worded bills by Callegari could affect any occupational license. One would provide a mechanism for phasing out licenses deemed unnecessary; the other would make it easier to challenge rules governing occupational licensing requirements. Similar legislation was filed in 2011 but didn’t pass, said Jeremy Mazur, Callegari’s chief of staff.
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It's worth noting that Texas isn't really unusual in this regard. The scope of occupational licensing regimes has little to do with whether a jurisdiction is "red" or "blue" since it has nothing to do with the main axis of political conflict on taxes and redistribution, and to some extent licensing acts as a substitute for unionization.

Brent Graves from the Texas Auctioneers Association says the state actually needs more licensing of auctioneers. Right now only live in-person auctioneers need a license, but internet auctioneers don't. "That means a wronged client can’t have an unscrupulous auctioneer’s license revoked, Graves said."

I consider this exhibit 1,000 in way states really ought to scrap the vast majority of their existing licensing frameworks and instead invest resources in enforcing laws against fraud. Telling someone you're going to sell them X and then deliver Y instead is generally illegal, ought to be illegal, and has nothing to do with the virtues or merits of licensing. Fraudulent commercial transactions are bad, and state governments should stamp them out. But if you want to try your hand at running an acution, then go for it.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.