Shortly after he took office in 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder established the Office of Regulatory Reinvention, which established an occupational licensing advisory rules committee. The mission of this new department was “to ensure that Michigan’s regulatory environment is simple, fair, efficient, and conducive to business growth and job creation.” The committee’s purpose was to recommend changes to Michigan’s occupational licensing regime.
In February 2012, the agency released a report calling for reforms to state licensing laws. It suggested changes to these laws based, among other things, on whether a license protected consumers from harm, required specialized skills or training and was aligned with state and national standards. It recommended several ideas, including matching the total revenue from fees charged to licensees to the costs the state incurs in overseeing a licensed occupation, reviewing the continuing education requirements and reviewing licensing boards on “necessity, authority and proper functions.”
ORR’s report outlined a strategy for lawmakers when considering creating new occupational licenses. It recommended that licensing should “only be considered if it will offer added protection for the health and safety of the public” and that “provisions of the law should not exceed the minimum level of regulation necessary to protect the public.” Further, it warned against the adverse effects of stifling competition through licensure, advising to avoid regulations that “unreasonably diminish competition” or that are not conducive to job growth.
The report reviewed 87 occupations and called for the elimination of 22 licenses. They are listed below:
- Community planners
- Forensic polygraph examiners
- Immigration clerical assistant
- Interior designers
- Landscape architects
- Personnel agents
- Security guards
- Residential property managers
- Security alarm contractors
- Proprietary school solicitors
- Vehicle protection product warrantors
- Dieticians and nutritionists
- Occupational therapists
- Respiratory therapists
- Speech pathologists
- Insurance solicitors
- Underground storage tank consultant
The report also recommended rolling back some requirements of residential builders, plumbers, electricians, barbers, cosmetologists, morticians and eliminating a variety of occupational boards.
In 2013, the Michigan Legislature followed some of the recommendations of this report and many bills were proposed to roll back occupational licensing requirements. During the 2013-2014 legislative session, the state fully delicensed dieticians and nutritionists, auctioneers, community planners, ocularists, school solicitors and immigration clerical assistants. They also repealed a voluntary list of interior designers that was maintained by the state, got rid of the carnival ride board, and cut the mandated education hours for barbers. Other bills were introduced that would have delicensed landscape architects, polygraph examiners, foresters and elevator installers.[56]
In light of how many licenses Michigan requires this may seem like only a small amount of reform. But according to a working tally from the Institute for Justice, this is more licensing reform than any state has made in at least the past decade and perhaps going back even further.
In March 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate reiterating his principles for regulatory reform. He wrote, “Going forward, we need to continue to exercise diligence and caution in determining whether to impose new regulations or requirements on any occupations — whether previously unregulated or not — and we should enact new restrictions only when they are absolutely necessary to protect the public welfare.” However, no other licensing repeals have been enacted since 2013.