The Tyranny of Occupational Licensing – Opinion

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not reflect in any way those of the Tiger Media Network, its staff or Fort Hays State University.

By:  Darryl W. Perry

In March 2014 the Institute for Justice filed suit on behalf of Celeste Kelly, Grace Granatelli and Stacey Kollman against the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board. IJ reports, “each [woman] turned their lifelong love of animals into their own businesses through which they offer animal massage. Massaging horses is Celeste [Kelly]’s livelihood; Grace [Granatelli] massages dogs; and Stacey [Kollman] owns a horseback riding and horse training business where she also massages horses. Each [woman] spent hundreds of hours learning animal massage techniques to obtain private certifications, and each woman has more than ten years’ experience massaging animals.” However, the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board “demanded they obtain veterinary licenses to massage animals.”

In February 2017 Kelly, Granatelli and Kollman received something akin to justice when the Veterinary Board agreed to “not enforce the laws and rules governing the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Board and the practice of veterinary medicine… against animal massage practitioners.” Kelly, Granatelli, and Kollman, in agreeing to the Consent Decree, waived their rights to any relief, meaning they will not be able to recoup any legal fees they may have paid.

A pair of women in Tennessee are dealing with a similar absurd situation. However, this type of occupational licensing enforcement is not limited to animal massage therapists. Until October 2015, anyone convicted of “unlicensed storytelling [in Savannah, Georgia] risked fines of up to $1,000, 30 days in jail, or even forced participation in a municipal ‘work gang.’” Currently, 27 states and the District of Columbia require some form occupational license for hair braiding. Sixteen of these states include hair braiding under the same regulations as hairstylists, hairdressers or cosmetologists requiring between 1,000 to 2,100 hours of training; another 10 states and DC have a separate license for hair braiding that requires between 100 and 600 hours of training; four other states have less onerous licensing requirements of between 6 and 30 hours of training; and twenty states do not require any special license at all to braid hair. By comparison, in Louisiana, one needs only 360 hours of training to become a police officer, while Massachusetts requires 900 hours of training to put on a badge, and federal requirements for EMT’s require approximately 200 hours of training.

There are other onerous licensing requirements that many people believe are needed to keep us safe, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that occupational licensing laws serve to protect one group of people from competition from another group of people. If people really do have an “inalienable right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” then how can anyone honestly support restrictions on those rights?

Darryl W. Perry has spent most of his adult life as an advocate & activist for peace and liberty. Darryl is an award winning author, publisher & radio/TV host. He is a regular contributor to several weekly and monthly newspapers.


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