COVID-19 has forced many changes; can government continue to change with them?
In a post-COVID-19 world, it makes even less sense that some low-risk professions are barricaded by red tape and governed to prevent concierge and gig-economy style services, said Shoshana Weissmann, a policy fellow at the Washington D.C.-based R Street Institute.
For example, organizations like the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Examiners refuse to allow hair stylists and nail technicians to take business outside salons — even though some customers may be more comfortable getting haircuts or manicures in their own homes as isolation orders lift but fear of COVID-19 exposure remains.
That’s crazy, Weissmann said.
Occupational licensure is touted by proponents to protect consumers and workers. But it creates barricades for people most in need of work, Weissmann said. It stifles consumers, too, who would be willing to pay for services at home but aren’t allowed to buy them because of licensing laws.
The General Assembly should tackle the issue bit by bit, loosening licensing requirements for lower risk careers — like auctioneers, hair stylists, makeup artists, and taxidermists, Weissmann said.
“One thing I definitely advocate is not doing omnibus bills, as much as I’d love to knock out a bunch of licenses,” she said. “Unfortunately, that just brings a bunch of lobbies together.”
Legislators have “a million issues to focus on at a time like this,” Weissman said, but looking at ways to transfer occupational licenses from another state is a practical way to bolster the workforce without forcing highly trained people to jump through extra hoops.