The Insanity of Occupational Licensing — $1,537 for a Shoe Shine Permit

TPOH has long been on the case of the red tape created by occupational licensing (and one of our heroes is Melony Armstrong, who took on her state’s rules and won). It seems to be a constant uphill battle, but two senators are hoping to create a model for states to follow to reduce the obstacles entrepreneurs face as a result of occupational licensing rules.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who has made it a mission to eliminate unnecessary occupational licensing laws — one of the few areas where the states really exceed the federal government when it comes to regulatory barriers — has been working with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on legislation to address one small area of occupational licensing — dealing with rules in Washington, D.C., where the federal government has some legislative oversight.

Sasse and Lee’s ALLOW Act would reduce occupational licensing rules in the nation’s capital to “only to those circumstances in which it is the least restrictive means of protecting the public health, safety or welfare,” reports The Weekly Standard.

The senators appear motivated in part by stories like the one told by an American University freshman who decided to go shine some shoes to help pay for expenses associated with attending one of America’s elite universities.

Before heading down to the street, the student said he double-checked online about vendor rules in D.C., and was shocked to learn that he would have to pay $1,537 in permitting and licensing fees, not to mention other arbitrary compliance laws, which included 83 pages of rules for sidewalk shoe shines. The student noted that if he didn’t get the fees — and wait six months for the permit!! — he could be fined $2,000.

Not much in the way of encouraging work.

The states would have to follow with their own revisions, but as Melony Armstrong has noted, her fight in Mississippi resulted in paperwork and permitting reductions not only in her state, but in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and Utah.

Read more about Sens. Sasse and Lee’s occupational licensing reduction act.