The Buckeye Institute Achieves One of the Nation’s Best Occupational Licensing Reform Laws and More is Yet to Come

Lisa A. Gates May 31, 2019

Powerful, entrenched interests prospered from a restrictive occupational licensing regime in Ohio for decades. This dysfunctional form of crony capitalism narrowly benefited the well-connected, while disadvantaging people seeking to start new professions or become eligible for promotions.

The Buckeye Institute recognized the injustice, and went to work combat this unfair system. Buckeye produced credible, independent research that formed the backbone of its policy recommendations. Forbidden to Succeed: How Licensure Laws Hold Ohioans Back and Still Forbidden to Succeed: The Negative Effects of Occupational Licensing on Ohio’s Workforce revealed that Ohio’s licensing burdens were more onerous than the national average with disproportionately greater impact on middle-aged and low-income workers, and those without a college degree—people most in need of good-paying, stable jobs.

With this research in hand, Buckeye went to work outlining policy reforms that would: 1) remove regulations requiring that Ohio seek the least restrictive regulation needed; 2) require all licensing boards be renewed at least once every six years or they automatically expire; 3) require all new licensing legislation be reviewed to ensure it meets the least restrictive regulation law; and 4) allow a person convicted of a criminal offense to request a licensing authority review as to whether that conviction disqualifies them from obtaining a license.

These Buckeye-created recommendations formed the basis for Ohio Senate Bill 255, which, once adopted, moved Ohio from being one of the worst states on occupational licensing to one of the nation’s best.

Buckeye’s fight didn’t stop there! Buckeye is now fighting to help military spouses like Brianna McKinnon get back to work following a transfer. Developed from recommendations made by Buckeye in 2016, Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 133 would grant full professional licenses to military spouses if the requirements for the license they held in another state are similar to, or more stringent than Ohio’s. For military spouses whose out-of-state license is not similar to Ohio’s, they could obtain a temporary license while they pursue an Ohio license so that these spouses are not finically harmed or prevented from working while they wait for the new permanent Ohio license.

Lisa A. Gates is the vice president of communications at The Buckeye Institute.