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Eliminating needless employment barriers

Nevada lawmakers — particularly majority Democrats — prefer to take most of their cues from California and its union-dominated, tax-happy regulatory state. Perhaps they should look instead to Arizona.

Earlier this month, the Grand Canyon State became a national leader in occupational licensing reform. Gov. Doug Ducey on April 9 signed House Bill 2569, which mandates that the state recognize out-of-state professional licenses for a host of occupations. The governor also signed a piece of companion legislation that eliminated burdensome training requirements for salon workers.

“With (HB 2659), Arizona is sending a clear message to people across the country: If you’re moving to Arizona, there’s opportunity waiting for you,” the governor noted. “And we all know that … you don’t lose your skills simply because you moved here.”

The occupations affected include barbers, chiropractors, contractors, dentists, real estate agents, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians and dozens more. As long as such practitioners have a valid license in another state, they will be free to practice their craft upon relocating to Arizona without having to meet more arbitrary government employment requirements.

The ultimate goal for states looking to boost economic activity, encourage entrepreneurship and expand opportunity should be to re-examine many of these occupational licensing demands in the first place. But Arizona’s approach will encourage mobility and represents a large step toward puncturing the predominant bureaucratic orthodoxy that workers should need a government permission slip to earn an honest living.

Such requirements are often defended in terms of protecting public health and safety. Some accomplish precisely that: Few would argue that medical doctors or commercial airline pilots shouldn’t be licensed to ensure competency. But landscapers, interior designers or hair-braiders? In fact, a great many occupational licensing barriers are mere protectionist decrees that drive up consumer costs and limit employment options — particularly for unskilled or low-income workers — by shielding entrenched interests from competition.

Arizona’s new strategy is an “original and should be a model for other states for how to work together and do the things that matter,” Gov. Ducey said.

He’s correct. Nevada ranks among the worst states in the nation when it comes to unreasonable employment roadblocks, according to the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm that advocates against such red tape. Nevada lawmakers should follow Arizona’s lead by enacting bold occupational licensing reform to knock down the unnecessary hurdles that stand in the way of too many potentially productive Nevada workers.

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