Want to Sell Lizards? You Need a License for That

Andrew J. Kidd, Ph.D. Sep 10, 2019

So, you discovered a gold-mine idea: selling wild-bred lizards in Ohio. Lizards are the best pets: they don’t require much food; they don’t need to be taken out for a walk; and they kind of feel like owning a dinosaur. But wait, you can’t just start selling them in this state. You need a license for that, the commercial propagation license—and don’t forget to tell your customers that they also need a license to own their new Lizzie—for that they need the noncommercial propagation license.

Ohioans across the state meet these kinds of ridiculous barriers every day. Barriers that protect special interests and prevent Ohioans from beginning careers or starting businesses. These burdens take the form of occupational licensing requirements and are deemed necessary for public safety.

At The Buckeye Institute, we have consistently spoken out about and reported on the harm that overly burdensome occupational licensing requirements have on job creation and on those trying to find work—especially to those on the margins of society. And our efforts are paying off. Last year Ohio passed a law—one that Buckeye had long advocated for—that will go a long way to ensuring that powerful entrenched interests cannot continue to prosper from a restrictive occupational licensing regime.

Now the hard work begins.

The Ohio House State and Local Government Committee is examining the requirements for more than 150 licenses (only some of Ohio's required licenses), and the committee will make a recommendation on whether a license is necessary, should be eliminated, or should be changed. The requirement in the law, and the question the committee will ask is, “Is this the least restrictive regulation Ohio needs to promote public safety?” The Ohio Senate plans to begin its work next year.

At Buckeye, we are also examining Ohio’s licenses, and our forthcoming report—due to be released later this fall—will outline our recommendations on licenses that can be eliminated and ones that should have the number of training hours reduced.

In our preliminary research, we have already identified a Top Five list of licenses that can be eliminated:

  • Super-Tough Person Competition License and the Tough Person Competition License (Cost: Varies). Yes, the licenses are different, like the difference between a model and a supermodel. The license allows you to participate in a “tough person competition.” Yet, there is no actual training required; you just show up on the day of the event and sign up to compete, like signing up for your local marathon. So why does the state need to license you to compete in an athletic event? Good question!
  • Commercial Nuisance Wild Animal Control Operator License (Cost: $40). That’s a mouthful. Why do you need it? Well, just because you can set a mouse trap in your own house doesn’t mean you have the training and expertise to do so in your neighbor’s house. For that, you need a license.
  • Fishing Guide License (Cost: $50). Been living on Lake Erie your whole life and know where the best places are to find fish and what they are biting on? To put that knowledge to work, yep, you guessed it, you need a license. Oh, and the license is only needed if you want to be a fishing guide on Lake Erie—you can be a fishing guide on any other lake with no license at all!
  • Commercial/Noncommercial Propagation License (Cost: $40/$25). We have already warned you, it is illegal to sell and own wild lizards and other animals, such as turtles and frogs, in the state of Ohio without a license.  
  • Dietetics License (Cost: $225). Don’t listen to your trainer down at the gym unless they have this license. Only licensed dietitians in Ohio can offer you advice, such as eat a banana after working out and drink lots of water.

And these Top Five are only from the list of licenses being reviewed this fall by the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee. You can be sure there are more licenses worthy of elimination, such as the license to be an auctioneer or the one to be a casino card dealer.

As lawmakers continue their work, Buckeye will continue to push for policies that will open new doors for working Ohioans and ensure they are able to start new careers that will allow for them and their families to prosper.

Andrew J. Kidd, Ph.D. is an economist with The Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center and an aspiring licensed super-tough person.