Elected officials are always trying to find ways to create jobs or improve the lives of folks living in poverty by raising the minimum wage. Small business entrepreneurs are key to creating jobs and one of the best approaches government officials can take is to lessen burdensome licensing and regulations.

Erica Smith an attorney with the Institute For Justice has written an interesting post titled A License to Kill New York’s Economy. Ms. Smith’s article highlights some amazing licensing requirements imposed in New York State:

– A cosmetologist or massage therapist must have 233 days of education and experience to get the state’s blessing to work.

– A veterinary technologist needs two years of schooling — not to be a veterinarian, mind you, but to assist a veterinarian. Emergency medical technicians in New York — who literally hold human lives in their hands — are only required to have 35 days of training to do their job.

– Would-be barbers in New York must suffer through 884 days of training and three exams.

– Would-be manicurists to get 58 days of training and pass two exams to win a license; Alaska demands only about three days, Iowa about nine.

A recent report by the Institute for Justice, License to Work, ranks New York the 19th-worst state when it comes to licensure burdens. “Imagine how difficult it is to meet these requirements while working another job; imagine an unemployed person trying to live off savings or family members as he or she jumps through these government-mandated hoops” states Smith.

As the License to Work report points out, there is great variation among states as to what occupations are regulated.

“On average, the 102 occupations we studied are licensed in just 22 states—fewer than half. Only 15 occupations are licensed in 40 states or more. Even allowing for variation in states that may change the nature or popularity of some occupations across borders, this lack of consistency is suspect. For the vast majority of these licensed occupations, many people are practicing elsewhere without government permission and apparently without widespread harm.

Consider the same point from the perspective of the states. All of the 102 occupations studied are licensed somewhere. Louisiana, Arizona and California license more than 60 of the 102 occupations in this report, while Oklahoma, Colorado, Indiana, South Dakota, Kentucky, Vermont and Wyoming license fewer than 30. The average state licenses 43. Clearly, many states are doing just fine by leaving their citizens free to pursue occupations that other states license.”

In addition to state licensing requirements, many local governments impose their own additional licenses. In the Town of Tonawanda, New York where I reside businesses are required to pay a yearly license fee for every pool table and video game they have on their premises. I don’t see the health and safety reason for licensing pool tables and video games, yet every year local businesses have to fill out paper work and pay a fee.

We need elected officials at the state and local level to address the rationality of licensing requirements.

www.reinventinggov.org