Little signs ‘licensing freedom’ and ‘red tape reduction’ executive orders

February 2, 2019
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Gov. Brad Little has long been pushing to reduce occupational licensing regulations starting in 2017 when as Lieutenant Governor he implemented the “Licensing Freedom Act” on Jan. 31 in Boise.

BOISE — Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed two executive orders Thursday aimed at streamlining and reducing state occupational licensing rules and regulations, saying, “We need to assure the cumulative effects of rules and licensing is as citizen-friendly as possible.”

The orders build on the “Licensing Freedom Act” executive order he signed in 2017 as acting governor while he was Idaho’s lieutenant governor; that ordered a systematic review of all state occupational licensing rules.

The first of the two orders extends that act, creating “sunrise and sunset” processes for future occupational licensing laws. Those would require that when they’re created, they’re evaluated to ensure they’re necessary; and that the state review a portion of all such laws each year, with an eye to eliminating any that are no longer necessary.

The second order, dubbed the “Red Tape Reduction Act,” requires state agencies that issue new administrative rules to identify at least two existing rules to be repealed or significantly simplified for every new one they propose.

Little, who signed his executive orders behind a big stack of thousands of pages of state regulations and next to a large, tabletop, fine-print display of the 736 chapters of Idaho’s administrative code, said none of the moves to reduce regulations will happen if they’d hurt public safety. “That is an uncompromising position,” he said. But, gesturing toward the displays, he said, “If you read through all those, you’re going to see a lot of ’em that have nothing to do with safety.”

Even on such issues as electrical industry rules, he said, professionals have told him that sometimes rules stacked on top of other rules don’t match up, creating “a bigger hazard. … They didn’t look at it holistically and say, ‘What do we ultimately want to do to make sure things are safe?’ Our intent is that public safety is the No. 1 issue.”

Little said the statewide review found that there are at least 442 different occupational license types administered by 13 executive branch agencies and 47 boards and commissions. “It was the first comprehensive review of occupational licensing in more than 40 years,” he said.

Some changes already have been made to winnow that down, he said, such as combining the licensing boards for cosmetologists and barbers.

Asked about the fact that Idaho, unlike many states, doesn’t license building contractors, though it licenses many other occupations from driving instructors to boxing ring officials, Little was non-committal about addressing that. “The agreement, the consensus between the executive branch and the legislative branch will set the standard for what we’re doing going forward,” he said.

Four lawmakers who serve on a legislative interim committee examining occupational licensing rules applauded the governor’s new executive orders. “The goal is to make job entry more easily available as well as public safety,” said Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, Senate Commerce chairman. “We don’t need a license for everything we do.”

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, the House co-chair of the interim committee, said the group will be proposing legislation later this session regarding military veterans and occupational licensing. “We have seen a seriousness from the executive branch in terms of tackling this,” she said. “Working in collaboration with the executive branch, it’s been terrific to see us move forward in terms of removing some of those barriers to occupations throughout the state.”

Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, the Senate co-chair of the interim committee, said lawmakers recently attended a workshop with a consortium of 17 states that all are looking at occupational licensing reform. “One state had a proposal to license dog walkers,” he said.

Little interjected, amid laughter, “That’s out.”

Lakey said, “Because that state had a sunrise provision, they were able to kind of thank those folks but discourage them from bringing that forward.”

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