Legislators should focus on reducing Minnesota’s occupational licensing burden

Numerous bills regarding occupational licensing have been introduced in the current legislative session. In some ways, our state is moving in the right direction. However, some of the bills introduced threaten to add Minnesota’s already growing occupational licensing burden. Here are some of those bad bills.

SF 822: A bill to license music therapy

Licensing music therapists has been in consideration for a long time. In 2012, a bill was introduced for Minnesota to create a music therapy license. If passed, the Certification Board of Music Therapists would have been recognized as the official licensing board for music therapists. Fortunately, this bill did not pass. However, similar efforts have been introduced in subsequent years including in the current session.

The revival of this bill is not only threatening to the music therapy industry, but to the economic freedom of the Minnesota economy. As John Phelan explained, this bill was not created out of the need to prevent harm, as currently, no evidence exists that the lack of licensure is harmful to the public. It is merely industry insiders calling for licensing potentially as a way to protect themselves from the competition. If passed, it will merely contribute to the trend of Minnesota’s increasing breadth of licensing burden.

HF 827:  A bill to license sign language interpreters.

This bill requires the creation of one ‘Board of Sign Language Interpreters and Transliterators,’ which will be responsible for licensing applicants. The board is also responsible for adopting rules regarding application procedures and license terms. Much like most licensing boards, they can also impose penalties on unlicensed individuals practicing sign interpretation or transliteration without a license.

HF 125: A bill to license massage and Asian bodywork therapists

As I wrote before, the bill

if enacted into law, requires the establishment of a licensing board to oversee the industry. The duties of the board will include among the following:

(1)Issuing licenses to qualified applicants

(2)Establishing educational requirements as well as approving ” massage therapy and Asian Bodywork therapy school of programs, and conduct or provide for surveys of schools, programs and courses”.

(3) Maintaining a list of licensed therapists

(4)Adopting rules of standard as well as practice.

(5)Approving an examination used for credentialing

(6)Enforcing rules to do with licensing as well as investigating violations.

According to this new bill, no single person will be allowed to practice as a massage therapist or Asian bodywork therapist unless licensed. A person found doing so would be guilty of a “gross misdemeanor”

There is no evidence that exists showing lack of licensure is harmful to the public in most industries. Additionally, research suggests that licensing does very little to improve quality. In most cases, it merely raises prices and restricts supply. There is no reason to expect otherwise with these bills.