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The Case for Occupational Licensing Reform in Kansas

A Barrier for Skilled Workers

While politicians often deliver speeches on the need to create more jobs, many jobs in America require an occupational license. In other words, individuals must obtain a permission slip from the government in order to complete certain types of work. Moreover, occupational licensing is typically expensive and can require time-consuming training.

In spite of the individual burden caused by licensing, they vary from state to state. Of course, many states refuse to honor licensing acquired outside of their own borders. By the same token, few politicians give even lip service to this point.

After all, occupational licenses are not limited to any one sector. In reality, occupational licensing impacts a wide variety of professions. For example, in Kansas these include:

  • accountants
  • barbers and hair stylists
  • daycare centers
  • garbage collector
  • electricians
  • florists
  • interior designers
  • landscapers
  • manicurists
  • nurses
  • pawnbrokers
  • plumbers
  • real estate agents
  • security guards
  • teachers
  • wrecker service

Kansas treats all individuals moving into the state equally, regardless of skill. In other words, their prior qualifications don’t make any difference. Each individual must reapply for permission to work in their field when moving to Kansas. Consequently, that requirement becomes a costly barrier for countless Americans. Indeed, it can dissuade skilled workers who are trying to earn a living from even moving to a new state. 

ISEG Research Fellow Eric Mota Advocates for Reducing Barriers to Employment for Skilled Workers by Reforming Occupational Licensing

Dr. Eric Mota, Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Economic Growth (ISEG) contributed an op-ed along with Ed Timmons of the Knee Center at St. Francis University. Their article, titled “Kansas Needs Skilled Workers. Why Not Make It Easier for Them to Move Here?” published on February 27, 2021.


“About 10 years ago, Kansas established itself as a leader in eliminating red tape for veterans and their families moving into the state. HB 2066 has the potential to re-establish Kansas as a national leader by doing the same for all civilians as well. Occupational licensing laws set minimum levels of competency for job market entry. More and more workers are subject to these laws, and it is important that safety concerns don’t impose unnecessary burdens. The Institute for Justice estimates that nearly 16% of workers in Kansas are licensed, and that losses due to licensing exceeds 29,000 jobs a year.

Dr. Eric Mota
Research Fellow

Read the whole article next at The Wichita Eagle on Kansas.com