In early June of 2018, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed an executive order directing an internal review of all occupational licensing requirements within the state. According to Forbes, this development is extremely important; New Mexico has one of the more “onerous” licensing regimes in the country. The Institute for Justice’s study on licensing burdens, License to Work, found New Mexico to have the ninth most burdensome licensing laws in the country.
The executive order both recognizes the harms of excessive occupational licensing while working to expand the state’s current capacity. The order itself states, “research shows licensing requirements and fees limit economic mobility, entrepreneurship and innovation, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income Americans.” During the signing ceremony at the Cannon Air Force Base, Martinez pointed out that many military spouses who move to New Mexico must often leave their careers behind—they simply don’t have the time or money to acquire a New Mexico license.
New Mexico is one of twelve states that requires bartenders, packers, and dietetic technicians to have licenses. The new order requires licensing boards to review and report all requirement while also reporting the number of states that license the noted occupation. During the process, the board must provide additional justification for regulation if fewer than half of all American states license it.
The Governor is also asking boards to consider less restrictive alternatives to licensing. The License to Work study identifies ten potential alternatives to protect consumers without shutting workers out. Private certification programs, for example, are very popular. The order notes that identifying the right regulation is essential, then government should tailor its regulatory responses to address the problem.
Nebraska enacted legislation based on a similar model earlier this year. State legislators in Michigan and Ohio are currently considering similar bills. There is a growing list of elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, who are working to reform licensing as a way to open up economic opportunity in individual states.