Arizona Republic Report Leaves Out Important Details and Context On Universal Licensing

Arizona Republic Report Leaves Out Important Details and Context On Universal Licensing

By Jeffrey A. Singer |

The Arizona Republic recently published a report entitled, “Universal Licensing: Arizona opened the doors to less qualified workers‐​the public bears the risk.” In its investigation of Arizona’s universal licensing recognition law enacted in 2019—a reform so successful and popular that it is being emulated by more than a third of other states—it mentioned irrelevant incidents and presented out‐​of‐​context data to malign this bold and enlightened reform.

The article begins and ends with a heart‐​wrenching story about a California‐​licensed veterinarian who received a temporary Arizona license, granted under a 1967 law, to work at a Mesa, Arizona clinic. She’s been accused of poor surgical technique while operating on a kitten brought to the clinic on death’s doorstep. The kitten died and the vertinarian was fired from the clinic. Her temporary license expired after 30 days, and she was never granted the permanent license for which she applied. Yet readers are expected to view this as an indictment of Arizona’s universal licensing law.

Universal licensing dilutes the authority of state occupational licensing boards, so it is no surprise that a spokesperson from an organization representing that constituency, the Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards, would be quoted in the article criticizing universal licensing over the fact that Arizona grants licenses to workers from states with less onerous licensing requirements—providing their out‐​of‐​state licenses are in good standing for at least a year.

It is wrong to assume that more onerous requirements are better. In many cases, incumbent occupations lobby state licensing boards to make requirements tougher for new entrants, usually “grandfathering” those already licensed, to reduce competition. Thus, EMTs must complete, on average, 33 days of training and pass 2 exams to get a license while cosmetologists need 11 months of training and interior designers need 73.

When it comes to the medical profession, licensing requirements are virtually identical in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They include graduating an accredited medical school, passing a standardized national licensing exam, and completing at least one year of postgraduate training. Yet few people realize that private third‐​party certification organizations do the heavy lifting when it comes to quality assurance.

For example, I am a general surgeon. As a licensed medical doctor, I can legally decide to switch my specialty to obstetrics and gynecology or dermatology or even psychiatry and display it on my door. However, health care facilities will not grant me practicing privileges without proof I completed postgraduate training in the specialty and will likely require board certification. Specialty boards will not grant me certification unless I complete accredited specialty training and pass their exams. Health plans will not include me on their provider panels without proof I completed the specialty training, and I will be unable to get malpractice insurance coverage for the same reason. Note how many independent, private third parties provide information and protection to consumers of already‐​licensed physicians. These are the real guarantors of safety.

The Republic report implies to readers that malpractice is automatically a reason to deny or revoke a license. Oftentimes, when medical or other professional malpractice cases are settled, the defendants do not stipulate to liability. Both settlements and convictions get reviewed by licensing boards. But unless convictions are repetitive or egregious, boards rarely restrict or revoke licenses. The same is true when boards investigate complaints directly lodged by customers or patients.

Yet the authors of the report infer that something must be amiss if an applicant receives a universal license from a licensing board when they have a history of a malpractice settlement in the state where they are already licensed. If every malpractice settlement justified denying or revoking a license, the entire country would have a desperate shortage of doctors, dentists, and other health care practitioners.

Historically, it has been the incumbent members of professions and occupations who lobbied state legislatures to license and regulate them—not the customers, clients, or patients. While incumbents promoted licensing under the guise of protecting the public, they were really protecting themselves by reducing competition from new entrants and, in the process, inflating prices for their services. The report’s authors cite another organization that represents the interests of incumbents, the Alliance For Responsible Professional Licensing, that defends occupational licensing by saying “licensing helps to solve problems of income disparity, boosting wages most at the bottom end of skill distribution.” But that doesn’t account for the innumerable people who are locked out of the opportunity to lift themselves from poverty by using their skills to make an honest living.

For example, at one time Arizona required African‐​style hair braiders to spend nearly one year and close to $10,000 to get a cosmetology license, which includes training to use chemicals to dye or treat hair, as well as hair cutting. They’re taught nothing about hair braiding. A lawsuit pushed lawmakers to end that requirement in Arizona, but such obstacles to hair braiders still exist in several other states. Louisiana florists “protected” the pubic from people who want to simply arrange flowers by successfully lobbying for a law that requires them to get a license. License requirements include passing a four‐​hour exam during which the applicant must arrange flowers while being judged by licensed florists. Louisiana is the only state that licenses flower arrangers. Does the Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards criticize Arizona for having less onerous requirements on flower arrangers who relocate from Louisiana? The Republic’s reporters didn’t say.

The proliferation of occupational licensing laws, from interior decorators to fire alarm installers, may have boosted the income of those protected by a license, but they have prevented many people from lifting themselves out of poverty by entering such fields of endeavor. Indeed, in 2016 President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors issued a report detailing how licensing leads to higher prices and reduced opportunity. The Obama administration convinced Congress to appropriate grants to help states “enhance the portability of occupational licensing.”

In an earlier time, licensing laws were also used to exclude racial and ethnic minorities. The Cato Institute held a policy forum on this subject in November 2020 called “Race and Medical Licensing Laws.”

Furthermore, most state licensing boards deny licenses to people who have a history of a felony conviction. With nearly one‐​third of Americans these days having a record in the criminal justice system, licensing laws deny many people a second chance to better themselves. In May 2021 Governor Ducey signed into law HB 2067, which provides “Certificate[s] of Second Chance” to people convicted of certain felonies, which will help them obtain occupational and business licenses. The law does not apply universally to all crimes and convictions. For example, driving with a suspended license and criminal speeding are among the convictions excluded. Nevertheless, the new law at least helps some who’ve made mistakes in the past to clear the occupational licensing hurdle and forge a new and better life.

Arizona ignited a national trend in breaking down barriers to people of all backgrounds seeking to make an honest living while expanding options and choice for consumers. Universal licensing reform has bipartisan appeal. From blue states like New Jersey to red states like Missouri, lawmakers are uniting around the goal of removing the barriers to upward mobility that occupational licensing laws erect. Sadly, by citing irrelevant narratives, cherry‐​picking data, and failing to provide adequate context, the Arizona Republic article did this reform a great injustice.

This article originally appeared on the Cato Institute blog and can be found here.

This Past Year Proves We Cannot Ignore School Board Elections

This Past Year Proves We Cannot Ignore School Board Elections

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

For a long time, school board elections have been one of the easiest to ignore. Maybe it’s because the names on the ballot don’t stand out as much as the candidates for President, Governor, or U.S. Senate. Maybe it’s because people are too busy to research the candidates. Or maybe it’s because voters who don’t have kids—or whose kids are not in public school—don’t see how school board elections can affect them.

But if 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that even the smallest election has consequences. And nowhere has that been more obvious than with the leftist agendas that have taken over Arizona’s school districts this past year.

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Let’s Look at Limiting These Never-Ending Election Campaigns

Let’s Look at Limiting These Never-Ending Election Campaigns

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower announced he was a Republican 10 months before the general election. In June, he resigned his military office to devote full time to his presidential campaign.

Adlai Stevenson was already a Democrat by 1952 but resisted multiple efforts by Democrat partisans to nominate him as their candidate. After his stirring speech at the convention that summer, they did so anyway. Three months later, a president (Eisenhower) was duly elected.

Modest candidates and brief campaigns are now in our receding past. The 2020 presidential race lasted 1,194 days after the first candidate declared. The 2024 election, for practical purposes, started immediately after the previous election. Fully three years out, news and opinion outlets are brimming with the latest poll numbers, candidate statements, and expert speculation.

No other nation subjects itself to such an exhausting ordeal. Elections in Canada, the UK, and Australia all last about six weeks. In Japan, they get it done in 12 days.

Admittedly, these are parliamentary systems where elections are triggered by political events, but France gives candidates just six months to qualify for the second-tier ballot, then two weeks to campaign in the finals.

American campaigns weren’t always ultramarathons. Warren Harding, for example, announced his candidacy 321 days before the 1920 election. Most American presidential candidates operated under a similar timeline.

The “modern” era began with the contentious 1968 Democrat convention when the party rank-and-file wrested control from the smoke-filled rooms, and the popular primary system was established. In 1976, the obscure Jimmy Carter was able to build momentum in the primaries by campaigning early. Ambitious politicians ever since have taken note.

But super-long campaigns have consequences, most of them undesirable. The most obvious is that length favors deep pockets, the ability to finance a years-long, money draining effort.

Few candidates can self-fund. Instead, they have to spend immense amounts of time and do a lot of promising to raise the many millions required for the campaign. Many political leaders are distracted from their duties by the minutiae of campaigning.

Never-ending campaigns simultaneously exhaust and entrance voters. Competitions are naturally interesting and easy to understand. It’s simple and inexpensive for the media to churn out horse-race stories, so NATO, supply chains, and housing policy get short shrift while mountains of articles are written about the prospects of the candidates far in the future.

It has long been a truism that more challenging, risky issues are harder to tackle in an election year. But if every year is effectively an election year, then it’s never the right time for heavy lifting.

Instead, governing in the midst of a campaign creates constant pressure to “do something,” so that politicians appear active and effective. Populist policies and handouts which favor the growth of government are thought to attract voters. Moderation and fiscal restraint don’t sell well, so they are kicked to the curb.

The Build Back Better bill was the perfect campaign legislation, something for everyone. No wonder Democrats are panicked over the electoral consequences of its possible failure.

But long campaign seasons also have their clear winners. Potential candidates are already dropping by Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which happen to be crucial early primary states just to, you know, see how the folks are doing.

These states fiercely protect their primary position and with good reason. Iowa particularly has successfully exploited the candidates’ need to ingratiate themselves into the long-term protection of ethanol mandates, regulations and subsidies. It’s foolish policy with no environmental or other benefit except to corn farmers and producers, another result of our long and complicated presidential elections.

Compared with other countries, the U.S. has a short presidential term and an unusually long election process. This near constant turnover lengthens the period in which we are vulnerable to foreign actors exploiting us for their benefit.

Other democracies have laws which limit elections. Exactly nobody is clamoring for longer elections in those countries. Still, politicians are unlikely to reform their own system.

In the absence of other options to rid ourselves of these expensive, dysfunctional election campaigns, maybe we should take a look.

The Evidence Shows That Arizona Is Funding Education at Historic Levels

The Evidence Shows That Arizona Is Funding Education at Historic Levels

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

If you have been listening to the left and their friends in the media over the last several years, you might be under the impression that conservatives in the legislature have chronically underfunded K-12 education. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, and the truly historic levels of education funding actually threatens their soak the rich tax hike (Prop 208).

The reason we know K-12 is funded at historic levels is because there is a constitutional expenditure limit. Next year, we’re on track to blast above it. By billions.

Their pivot has been to attack the expenditure limit, as opposed to acknowledging how much the state is spending. But taxpayers should be thankful for this constitutional protection. It isn’t outdated, and it isn’t holding our schools back.

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Democrats Are Using the ‘Latino Coalition’ to Manipulate Redistricting Maps

Democrats Are Using the ‘Latino Coalition’ to Manipulate Redistricting Maps

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

The final push on Arizona’s redistricting maps is upon us. And for the most part, things are getting better. The maps are reflecting the community input that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has received over the past three months, and that’s important. After all, this process only takes place every 10 years, so whatever maps are drawn will determine your district for the next decade.

On top of that, the maps are also close to fitting the criteria that the commission must follow in the Arizona Constitution. This is good. And this is the direction the maps should be headed.

So, naturally, the Democrats are trying everything they can to game the system. And this time they are doing it through a group called the Arizona Latino Coalition for Fair Redistricting.

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The Corporation Commission’s Upcoming Meeting Could Have a Huge Impact on You

The Corporation Commission’s Upcoming Meeting Could Have a Huge Impact on You

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

If you don’t typically pay attention to the Arizona Corporation Commission, now is a good time to start.

The role of this government agency is to set rates and policies for utilities. That sounds simple enough, right? But for over a year now, the commission has been in the process of developing a “clean energy” plan that looks to ban all fossil fuels in our state. Next week, this renewable energy mandate will be brought up for a vote again. And the consequences could be a disaster.

Green New Deal mandates would cost ratepayers over $6 billion

In July 2020, the commission quietly released its plan to impose California-style energy mandates in our state. But it wasn’t until August of this year that an independent cost analysis had been completed. And the results were eye-opening.

In order to achieve the 100% clean energy mandate by 2050, utilities would need to phase out all fossil fuels, purchase more solar and wind generation, expand lithium-ion battery storage, and convert natural gas generation to green hydrogen. The cost for all this would be over $6 billion, which comes out to an estimated $60 per month or $720 per year for the average ratepayer.

Remember when the green energy lobby said that these mandates would actually save you money? It turns out that was just another lie. But the cost isn’t the only issue.

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