The Buckeye Institute Urges Ohio Lawmakers to Modernize State’s Occupational Licensing Requirements

Mar 22, 2022

Columbus, OH – On Tuesday, The Buckeye Institute submitted written testimony (see full text below or download a PDF) to the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee on the recommendations in House Bill 509, which would help make Ohio more economically competitive by eliminating and modernizing the state’s burdensome occupational licensing requirements. 

In his testimony, Greg R. Lawson, a research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, noted that the recommendations in House Bill 509 are the result of a Buckeye-championed process that requires lawmakers to review “Ohio’s overgrown thicket of bureaucratic licensing boards” and ensure that unnecessary and overly burdensome occupational licenses are not depriving “trained professionals and job-seekers of the fruits of their labor.”

To assist lawmakers in their review, The Buckeye Institute identified 63 licenses that Ohio should eliminate or reform, many of which were adopted by the committee in its 2021 Occupational License Review Report. These changes—along with universal occupational license recognition—Lawson pointed out, will make Ohio “more attractive to professionals.”

Lawson urged lawmakers to not only implement the recommendations in House Bill 509, but to adopt universal occupational license recognition to make Ohio more competitive economically and ensure that trained, licensed professionals from other states can pursue their careers in the Buckeye State.

# # #

Making Ohio More Competitive by Modernizing Occupational Licenses

Interested Party Testimony
Ohio House State & Local Government Committee
House Bill 509

Greg R. Lawson, Research Fellow
The Buckeye Institute
March 22, 2022

As Submitted

Thank you, Chairman Wiggam, Vice Chair John, Ranking Member Kelly, and members of the Committee, for the opportunity to submit written testimony regarding House Bill 509. 

My name is Greg R. Lawson. I am the research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, an independent research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.

Senate Bill 255 of the 132nd General Assembly—a bill championed by The Buckeye Institute—requires legislative panels to weed through Ohio’s overgrown thicket of bureaucratic licensing boards that often deprive trained professionals and job-seekers of the fruits of their labor. Under Senate Bill 255, if the General Assembly does not proactively reauthorize a board, it withers and dies. House Bill 509 represents the latest and much-needed work in this area.

The Buckeye Institute’s policy brief, Opening Doors II: Occupational Licensing Reform in Ohio After Senate Bill 255, identified 63 licenses that Ohio should eliminate or reform. Many of those recommendations—nearly a third—appear in House Bill 509, which means that good work is being done and there is more yet to do. 

Some of the bill’s changes with respect to funeral directors and embalmers, for example, should help streamline apprenticeship opportunities for those looking to enter the field. The bill wisely eliminates many temporary licenses; aligns more closely with continuing education requirements for pharmacists; and makes fees, continuing education and licensing renewal for school psychologists more consistent with those in surrounding states. These changes along with universal licensing recognition for out-of-state licenses will improve Ohio’s overall occupational licensure environment, making the state fairer and more attractive to professionals. 

Ohio needs these reforms to remain economically competitive and reverse disturbing demographic trends. As The Buckeye Institute explained in Forbidden to Succeed: How Licensure Laws Hold Ohioans Back, high fees and training requirements can reduce occupational job growth by 20 percent as prospective workers who cannot afford the fees and mandated training remain unemployed or underemployed. Occupational licensing restrictions make hiring more difficult for employers and tell skilled workers that their skills and training are insufficient and unwanted here. An Institute for Justice report estimated that as of 2018, the state’s occupational licensing regime had already cost Ohio more than 67,000 jobs. Such job loss contributes to Ohio’s perennial emigration problem, an exodus that has cost Ohio yet another congressional seat. 

House Bill 509 and additional legislative efforts to re-evaluate Ohio’s occupational licensing regime will help reverse this trend and make Ohio more competitive in the long run.

Thank you for your time and attention. 

# # #