It's Getting Easier to Earn a Living in Tennessee

Date: January 17, 2017

Legislative review of licensing regulations has begun, thanks to NFIB-supported law.

In April 2016, the Tennessee Legislature passed the Right to Earn a Living Act, which is a first step toward eliminating unnecessary hurdles to making in a living in the Volunteer State—namely, overzealous occupational licensing requirements for many jobs and careers. Under this new law, the Legislature’s government operations committees must review all of Tennessee’s occupational licensing laws and determine which can be eliminated or scaled back. The goal is to give more people the freedom to climb the economic ladder, while still protecting consumers’ health and safety.

This review process begins in January and will continue throughout 2017. And to help the Legislature with this work, NFIB/TN joined with the Beacon Center of Tennessee to publish a how-to guide to which licensing laws are important and necessary and which can be eliminated.

Some licensing requirements are necessary—like for doctors, nurses, and attorneys—while others are questionable.

 “Back in the 1950s, just one in 20 workers needed a license to work,” NFIB/TN State Director Jim Brown and Beacon Center President and CEO Justin Owen wrote in a Knoxville News Sentinel op-ed. “Today, it has skyrocketed to one in three. And before even getting the license, which is essentially asking the government permission to work, one must often attend many hours of school at a hefty cost, and then take a test before ever being ‘approved’ to do their job. It takes an average of 222 days and costs an average of $218 to get a license in Tennessee. The time and financial burden puts many jobs out of reach for an estimated 15,000 Tennesseans.”

 To help correct this problem, the how-to guide:

  • Outlines the process of reviewing and modifying or repealing licensing regulations
  • Thoroughly lists what questions should be asked in regulation hearings
  • Covers next steps, such as implementing less restrictive regulations, conducting ongoing sunset review hearings, putting together committee reports, and recognizing and preventing unnecessary licensing regulations in the future

To read NFIB and the Beacon Center’s full how-to guide, click here.

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