The following is testimony submitted by Badger Institute President Mike Nichols on proposed reforms to Wisconsin’s occupational licensing statutes.
The testimony was submitted to members of the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform regarding Assembly Bills 203, 204 and 205 on May 24, 2023.
Chairman Sortwell and members of the Committee,
Wisconsin prohibits over 1 million citizens from working unless they have government permission. This is the root of the backlogs plaguing Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Between 1996 and 2016, the number of fields requiring government certification increased by 84%. The state’s population grew just over 10% during that same period. The state currently requires certification for 280 credential types. Government permission is required for anyone seeking to become an auctioneer, animal trainer, dance therapist, landscape architect, butter maker, manicurist, bartender, elevator helper, barber, taxidermist and soil erosion inspector — to name a few.
Our research shows that Wisconsin regulates too many professions in too many ways. We believe universal recognition of credentials in other states with similar standards would be helpful. But we also support multiple other bills, including three being considered by your committee today.
- Assembly Bill 203, which clarifies current law so someone renewing a license can continue to practice even if the DSPS is delayed in saying that renewal has been completed.
- Assembly Bill 204, which shifts two-year renewal cycles to four years, a move that should reduce the workload of both the DSPS and license holders.
- Assembly Bill 205, which extends to out-of-state individuals with business licenses a provision that already applies to out-of-state individuals with health care licenses. This bill would let them apply for a preliminary credential while an application for a permanent credential is pending.
Among the bills not being heard today that Badger Institute also supports are AB90 and AB143, bills that would give the Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association more latitude to review license applications and limit DSPS’s ability to require so-called statutes and rules examinations.
Finally, we also support AB 200 and 201, transparency and accountability bills that would require DSPS to track and report on the agency’s progress, an entirely reasonable requirement.
Burdensome licensing requirements hurt Wisconsin workers and make the state a less attractive place to live. Overly onerous licensure regulation does little to promote health or safety and instead costs Wisconsinites jobs, income and the ability to care for their families. While just a start, we believe AB 203, 204 and 205 will begin to help address some of these issues.