Conor Norris, guest columnist

Posted April 15, 2021 at 6:03 p.m. CT


Dipa Bhattarai came to Mississippi from Nepal and started an eyebrow business. But Mississippi requires her to be licensed in cosmetology.

Mississippi Clarion Ledger

The 2021 legislature brought multiple victories for Mississippi residents. While work remains to be done to remove the unnecessary regulations that are keeping Mississippians from making a living, 2021 showed that lawmakers are poised to make serious progress.

Professional license laws seek to protect consumers from poor quality service providers. But sometimes they can go too far and injure workers in the process. It is important for the state to reconsider these laws and remove those that are too costly.

Conor Norris (Photo: Submitted / Special at Clarion Ledger)

Mississippi made waves by passing universal recognition and becoming the first state in the south to accept licenses from other states, making it easier to move to Mississippi. But we have seen other reforms as well. Certain professions will be exempted from a cosmetics license and training that has nothing to do with the services they offer. Another offers opticians a better way to treat eye problems.

Before that year, Mississippi was in need of reform. Sixty-six professions who do not require a college degree are licensed in Mississippi. That’s down from just 17 in 1993. Mississippi has that second lowest employment rate in the country, according to the US Department of Labor, thanks in part to this trend. These restrictions make it difficult for people to get meaningful, well-paid jobs and completely shut out formerly incarcerated employment opportunities. Economists estimate This license costs the state 13,000 jobs and $ 37 million per year.

Stop the eyebrow police: Lawsuits led to licensing reform in Member States, but more work was required

Regulations that protect consumers and ensure high standards are essential to a well-functioning society. But it’s just as important to design them so that they don’t harm other people. That is what these reforms are supposed to do.

Mississippi was the 12th state to receive general recognition of licenses outside of the state. This law allows professionals moving from another state to transfer their licenses quickly and easily so you can start work with little delay. Without universal recognition, it can take professionals months to obtain a new license after paying fees, taking exams, and even retraining. By accepting licenses from other states, it is now much easier to move to Mississippi and work there, which helps attract more people to the state.

This reform comes at the right time. Mississippi has a declining population while the other southern states are growing. Attracting talent is important, especially as the post-COVID-19 transition to remote working continues. Universal recognition will help Mississippi attract workers.

The legislature has also made it easier to register several Beauty professionslike arranging hair, threading eyebrows, and straightening eyelashes. This law opens up more opportunities for people to reward careers that do not require a college degree.

Finally thanks to a new law optician will be able to study, diagnose and treat eye diseases. This expansion of their field of activity enables opticians to practice at their educational and training level. This is especially important for people in rural areas who have better access to eye care.

Mississippi missed some other reforms. Although these bills failed the legislature, there is hope for them in the future.

House bill 1315 would have delicited several professions, including art therapists, auctioneers, interior designers and wigologists. Other forms of regulation would have been better suited to protecting consumers than professional licenses.

Patients, especially in rural areas, missed the opportunity to expand access to health care through House bill 1303. This bill would have given nurses more independence without practicing medical supervision arrangements, as is possible in 22 other states.

There is still much work to be done to properly adjust regulations to protect the Mississippi Mountains, but the legislature had a great session. They have improved patient access, made it easier for people to move to the state, and removed barriers to work. After this successful meeting there is a lot of momentum for the next year.

Conor Norris is a contributing employee of Empower Mississippi and a research analyst at the Knee center for the study of professional regulation.

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