The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

To improve employment opportunities, occupational licensing needs reexamining


August 16, 2018

Do you think hair-braiding professionals should be required to obtain a cosmetology license? In about a dozen states, hair braiding actually does require such a license, at the expense of hundreds of hours of training that can cost thousands of dollars.

Hair braiding is one of many moderate-income jobs to which access has been limited to potential entrepreneurs by bureaucratic occupational licensing requirements.

In Washington state, that list includes athletic trainers, massage therapists, taxidermists, and more. The Brookings Institution has calculated that restrictions from occupational licensing can result in up to 2.85 million fewer jobs nationwide, costing consumers $203 billion annually.

According to a study by the Institute for Justice, Washington state is the ninth most “broadly and onerously licensed state” as far as requiring occupational licenses for lower-income jobs.

While occupational licensing in some professions may be important to ensure expertise when serving the public, too often, it has been used to reduce competition by increasing the cost of training to limit opportunities for potential workers.

Occupational licensing for certain jobs, like hair braiding, can needlessly increase burdens on workers and small businesses. I believe that states should examine which license requirements actually serve the public, and which might be preventing employment opportunities.

We should not create bureaucratic barriers to entry for potential workers who are trying to apply their unique skills in the job market.

To help Americans enter a changing workforce with the knowledge and skills they need, the House and Senate approved, and I supported passage of bipartisan legislation, H.R.2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

The legislation helps states and local communities improve alignment of education with in-demand jobs. President Trump signed it into law in July.

H.R. 2353 included the New HOPE Act, to help states decide if they want to eliminate or reduce burdensome licensing requirements that are serving as an impediment to job creation.

The bill provides additional authority to state governors receiving funds for career and technical education, giving them the discretion to use this money for the “identification, consolidation, or elimination of licenses or certifications which pose an unnecessary barrier to entry for aspiring workers and provide limited consumer protection.”

In today’s thriving national job market, for the first time in 20 years, there is a gap between the number of open positions and workers qualified to fill them. Job training and education should be equipping graduates and workers with the skills they need to pursue opportunities that are actually available.

Unnecessary bureaucratic requirements should not prevent workers from providing for themselves and their families, which is why I support state review of occupational licensing requirements.

Note: To help equip job seekers in Central Washington, on Sept. 15, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., I will be hosting an Education and Job Training Expo in Yakima. This event will help individuals who are looking for a career change or graduates who are looking to take the next step in education.

There will also be panels on financial aid and navigating college admissions to help equip anyone looking to continue their education.

The Expo will be held at the Hopf Union Building at Yakima Valley College, on 16th Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard.

More information and an updated list of participants are at


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