Midland Republican responds to governor’s call for reform
Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, today announced he will introduce legislation to protect the state of Michigan from liability for overreaching occupational licensing boards following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
In a February 2015 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC that the North Carolina dental board was not immune from liability under federal antitrust law. As a result, states face significant legal exposure—including potential damages and penalties—for misbehavior by state licensing boards. In March, Gov. Rick Snyder wrote a letter to state lawmakers encouraging a review of Michigan’s occupational board policies, saying that onerous licensing regulations “expand the size and scope of state government, and divert staff time and taxpayer funds.”
“My common-sense legislation not only protects the freedom of competition and expands consumer choice in various professions in Michigan, but in light of the Supreme Court ruling in Dental Examiners, it protects Michigan from legal hazards associated with this bureaucratic overreach.” Rep. Glenn said. “I’m happy to support Gov. Snyder’s call for occupational licensing reform.”
State licensing boards consist largely of representatives of the profession itself who are often closely tied to trade associations or unions. They often use their power to restrict competition. When these restrictions are challenged in court, state taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for litigation to defend the boards, regardless of the taxpayers’ opinion on their legitimacy.
In North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, the dental board tried to exclude non-dentists from the market for teeth-whitening services after dentists complained about the low prices non-dentists charged for teeth whitening. The FTC took action against the dental board, and the Supreme Court held that state licensing boards composed of market participants do not enjoy automatic immunity from antitrust laws as state actors.
“When a State empowers a group of active market participants to decide who can participate in its market, and on what terms, the need for supervision is manifest,” the Court wrote.
Rep. Glenn’s Occupational Board Reform Act will protect Michigan from possible litigation by:
- Making it state policy to use the least restrictive regulation necessary to protect consumers from real harm, to limit occupational regulations to only the extent goods and services included explicitly in statute that defines the occupation’s scope of practice;
- Creating an Office of Supervision of Occupational Boards under the authority of the Attorney General;
- Requiring the Legislature to examine occupational licensing regulations.
Rep. Glenn said his Occupational Board Reform Act and other bills he has pursued during his first year in office have begun to form a theme: Defending and restoring the freedom to compete.
“In defending the market for energy in Michigan, which I’m doing by opposing legislation that would effectively outlaw competition in that market, and in supporting the repeal of so-called “prevailing wage” price controls that lock non-unionized companies out of construction contracts, and now introducing this legislation to limit anti-competitive licensing rules issued by licensing boards, defending the freedom to work and the freedom to compete has become one of my issues of focus in Lansing,” Glenn said.
According to a recent study by the Institute for Justice, of 42 low- to medium-skilled occupations subject to licensing requirements in Michigan, 15 are licensed in fewer than half of the other 49 states. The study did not include teachers, attorneys, or any field in the medical profession.
Some professions unusually licensed in Michigan include: Barber, makeup artist, manicurist, slot key person, athletic trainer, and floor sander contractor.
Rep. Glenn can be contacted toll free at 1-855-GLENN98; by email at GaryGlenn@house.mi.gov; online at RepGaryGlenn.com; or by mail at Anderson House Office Building, S-1287, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909.