Bill to Compel State to Weigh Pros, Cons of Proposed Occupational Licenses

A recently introduced bill in the Legislature would prevent lawmakers from adopting new occupational licenses without state officials first having weighed the proposed credentials’ likely costs and benefits.

The proposal, introduced Friday as Assembly Bill 605 and Senate Bill 541, would require the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to evaluate new occupational licenses before lawmakers vote on them.

Specifically, the DSPS would have to consider both the “financial burden” that any proposed rules might impose on people and businesses and the ways in which other states regulate whatever job is up for licensing. After looking at various types of regulation, state officials would then have to pick whichever is “least restrictive,” according to the bill.

Rep. Rob Hutton, a Republican from Brookfield and an author of the latest licensing proposal, said his main goal is to require state officials to consider whether new credentials are actually needed before adopting them.

“Many times we vote to create a new occupational license without understanding the full impact that license may have on the workforce and public safety,” Hutton said in a statement. “This legislation will ensure that we have a better picture of the effect an occupational license will have so we can make more informed policy decisions.”

A DSPS report from December examining the state’s occupational-license system recommended eliminating or consolidating 28 of the 280 professional licenses the state regulates. Most of the credentials under review were found by the DSPS to be unnecessary. Among them were credentials for dance and music therapists or cigarette salespeople, none of which has to do the construction industry. The agency, however, recommended consolidating the state’s seven-tier license system for blasting and suggested eliminating a credential for engineering-systems designers.