Pulling permits: Consolidation a step forward

Local officials in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Clark County last week introduced the first phase of a business license program that does away with separate permits for each municipality.

Starting with building contractors, business owners will be able to make one stop in either Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson or at Clark County government offices to fill out one form and pay a single fee, receiving a license good in all four jurisdictions.

Previously, contractors had to obtain separate business licenses from each jurisdictions, sending in renewal fees each year to each entity, often at different times. The fees – $250 a year in Las Vegas, $200 in each of the other jurisdictions – won’t change, but the recipient government entity will now pass on pro-rated payments to the others.

A 2011 state law required the local governments to develop the multijurisdictional contractor’s license by June 17.

“In construction, time is money,” responded Sean Stewart, executive vice president for the Associated General Contractors and Nevada Contractors Association. “This process removes much of the time-consuming burden contractors had previously faced. … This is a small but important step toward jump-starting our local economy and creating jobs.”

It is indeed – though it’ll be worth watching to make sure the program operates as promised, with savings from the more efficient system eventually passed along to taxpayers.

Government needs to do everything it can to cut through the red tape for businesses, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, Thursday.

Thank goodness. Because “cutting red tape for businesses” means more than merely streamlining the process of applying for all the licenses currently required, of course.

It’s a rare newly opened business in this valley that can’t share horror stories about threats of fines, conflicting requirements, expensive minor changes ordered by bureaucrats or weeks lost waiting for inspections.

The larger question is why so many permits and licenses are required in the first place – especially the presumption that workers and entrepreneurs alike need some kind of government permission to exercise the basic rights of starting a business or working for a living, even in the absence of major public health and safety concerns.

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, for instance, commented that last week’s launch is just the beginning. The cities will be seeking ideas on how to iexpand the program to other businesses that cross jurisdictions, Mayor Hafen said, such as landscapers and mobile car washes.

And landscapers and mobile car washes need to be licensed by the government, because …

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