Webert’s initial bill would have established a pilot program requiring the elimination of two existing state regulations for every one proposed. As beneficial as that might have been, the new version, which will appear this week, has a much narrower focus.
Under the revised bill, the Department of Planning and Budget would be tasked with “streamlining” or “reducing” regulations in the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
The whole thing is wrapped in political catnip: It’s all about jobs.
“[W]e have a responsibility to constantly evaluate every regulatory requirement and policy to ensure that it is doing its job in the least restrictive way possible,” the governor says.
“[R]ed tape hinders entrepreneurs, innovators, and small and large businesses alike from creating more of the good paying jobs that our people need,” House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said.
“This pilot program will significantly reduce regulations in two heavily-regulated areas and lay the foundation for further efforts to reduce regulations across state government.”
Good words and fine goals.
But how did Virginia find itself in the business of slapping professional licensing requirements on so many professions?
Writing in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Paul Larkin Jr. said the roots of occupational licensing reach back to medieval times.
But as the American service sector has grown, legislators have taken it upon themselves to extend the reach and cost of licensing for what Larkin called “reasons that have too little to do with public health and safety.”
Scrolling down the list of at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR), it’s easy to see why some jobs are under the regulatory microscope.
Contractors? Absolutely. Plumbers? Of course. Opticians? Probably so.
But professional boxers (expanded to include mixed martial artists) and auctioneers? Nail and wax technicians?
That’s where the state treads into some rather odd territory.
Consider the requirements to be a “trainer, second, or cutman” working in a boxer’s corner.
First – always first – is the payment of a $40 fee. Not exorbitant, but it must be paid, or no license for you.
Your check written, you must also demonstrate your knowledge of the fight game and a few more things, including a statement evidencing knowledge of the laws and regulations; the treatment of injuries; physical conditioning, health care nutrition, training, first aid and the effects of alcohol as it relates to boxing; and the bandaging of a boxer’s hand.
First aid? Fair enough. Nutrition? Mickey Goldmill might not have been too good on that one.
Former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) sought to do a bit of regulatory streamlining in the DPOR back in 2012.
As part of his larger budget package, McDonnell attempted to remove hair braiders, mold remediators and interior designers from occupational licensing requirements.
He succeeded on two of the three. But interior designers rose up against the deregulatory push. And won.
They said their opposition was about jobs, too. And their ability to compete against architects (who are also state-regulated). And then there were the state and federal requirements that only licensed designers could compete for government contracts.
Untangling the licensing requirements from the other layers of regulation shows how tangled the whole mess has become.
But untangled it must be — if for no other reason than common sense.
If the General Assembly agrees, and the Department of Planning and Budget makes sufficient, effective headway over the next three years, then other parts of the state’s regulatory apparatus might follow.
Here’s hoping it does — for Mickey’s sake.