In 2013, at the urging of a report from the Office of Regulatory Reinvention, Michigan eliminated seven occupational licenses and rolled back regulations in several others. In the years that followed, Gov. Rick Snyder urged the Legislature to do more. The governor said he would only support new licensing rules that protect public health and safety, apply to occupations with specialized training, are cost neutral, have clear “scope of practice” definitions and are superior to less burdensome and less costly alternatives.
In 2018, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced two packages of legislation that would create a review process of occupational licensing requirements and remove automatic restrictions on people with criminal backgrounds from obtaining licenses. Interest groups supporting this legislation spanned the political spectrum, and included business and trade groups, criminal justice reform advocates and think tanks with diverse political leanings.
Specifically, the bills would have prohibited the state from denying a license to someone based solely on their criminal record, unless their crime was directly related to the occupation they were seeking a license for. The review process would have applied to all current and proposed occupational licenses, mandating the use of the “least restrictive regulation” needed to protect consumers. If a licensing requirement was found to be needlessly restrictive by the Michigan Law Review Commission, it would recommend revising it or repealing it altogether. These bills did not pass in the 2017-18 legislative session but similar proposals have been reintroduced in 2019 in both legislative bodies.
Also in 2018, Gov. Snyder signed an executive order related to licensing and criminal backgrounds. This directs state agencies to not consider criminal backgrounds to the extent allowed by law when determining if someone is eligible for an occupational license. When most people apply for a state license, they will no longer be asked about their criminal background. Instead, applicants will self-attest to their ability to serve the public and their rehabilitation from any former criminal history. This order has been continued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.