Friday, April 13, 2018

Ebke unveils model licensing reform bill

Libertarian State Senator Wants to Make it Easier for People With Criminal Records (And Everyone Else) to Work - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

April 6, 2018 - "Laura Ebke of Nebraska is the Libertarian Party's only sitting state senator. A bill she introduced to reform her state's occupational licensing regime got an enthusiastic and lengthy write-up this week in The Wall Street Journal.... The Occupational Board Reform Act (L.B. 299) would change the incentive structure and process by which Nebraska decides the most rational and least restrictive way to ensure consumer safety without unduly harming people's ability to work.

"The state has been interested in 'chipping away at occupational licenses one by one' for a while, Ebke said.... Then last year she 'was approached by the Institute for Justice to see if I would be interested in carrying some model legislation they had put together, and I was very interested.'

"One of the more colorful case studies, described in the Journal story, involves massaging horses, which leaves you open in Nebraska to a possible four years in jail and a $35,000 fine if you do it unlicensed.... Ebke saw it as a teachable moment: 'Does it make sense,' she asked her colleagues, 'to demand a license to give a rubdown to a 1,200-pound creature?'

"The final vote on the measure is expected next week, and Ebke is confident it will make it to the governor's desk and be signed. One of her main allies in the process is a Nebraska-based free market think tank, the Platte Institute, founded by the sitting governor Pete Ricketts.

"Being a Libertarian, Ebke says, has likely helped the bill's so-far positive prospects. 'Most of the co-sponsors are Republicans,' she says, but 'the fact that I'm not a Republican allows some of the more liberal members of the body to come and talk to me." She says she's found such members willing to work on getting the bill into a shape that they can support, 'and their willingness to do so speaks to the fact that a lot of times I have been with them' on issues where Republicans were not.

"Ebke is also proud that the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has been an enthusiastic proponent of the bill, largely because of how it deals with how difficult current occupational licensing laws can make it for those with criminal records to find meaningful work.... As the Journal notes, 'Recidivism rates are lower in states where former criminals can find gainful employment.'

"In arguing for the bill, Ebke has found that some citizens are 'very protectionist and want to protect their [existing] licenses,' but many Nebraskans are excited for a chance to do meaningful productive work without jumping through unnecessary and expensive hoops."

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