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Issa Targets Job-Killing Government Licensing Requirements, Advances New Legislative Solutions

May 12, 2021

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50) reintroduced legislation to eliminate job-killing occupational licensing requirements with the Restoring Board Immunity Act and through sponsorship of the Freedom to Work Act

Issa’s bill, the Restoring Board Immunity Act, gives states appropriate flexibility to cut government red tape by implementing occupational licensing reforms.

“As many as one in three American workers is now required to obtain some sort of government-issued occupational license, often demanding hundreds of dollars in fees, weeks of training and months of waiting for testing just to earn a living,” Issa said. “While some licenses ensure important safety standards, far too many create unnecessary burdens for jobs no more risky than braiding hair, pet-sitting or flower arranging.”

The bill is being cosponsored by Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-7), who stated: “When occupational licensing requirements become too complex and burdensome, it places unnecessary obstacles on workers trying to do their job and earn a living. This bill encourages reforms at the state-level that promote a smarter regulatory climate, reduce overly excessive requirements, and boost jobs and economic opportunity for all.”

The legislation would establish a limited antitrust exemption to incentivize states to reform occupational regulations that can create barriers to employment and add to consumer costs. States could establish a state office of supervision of occupational boards to oversee occupational boards’ activities, or instead use a cause of action under state law to trigger judicial review of licensing laws under an intermediate scrutiny standard.

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court found in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission that antitrust laws could be applied to state occupational licensing boards.

“Government must never create barriers to competition, harm the consumer interest or interfere with anyone doing their job. This legislation is an overdue reform and will make a lasting difference in helping people across the country get back to work,” Issa said.

Read bill text here.

Issa also sponsored Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger’s Freedom to Work Act, which would require federal agencies to identify, review and recommend changes to federal policies that lead to additional state and local occupational licensing requirements. 

Congressman Issa is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and successful entrepreneur and small business owner.