Texas regulates or licenses more than one-third of its workforce, a rate higher than the national average. More than 500 professional activities require a state-issued license before they may be legally performed in Texas. According to a 2012 study conducted by the Institute for Justice, Texas licensure requirements for many low-income professions are the 17th most burdensome in the nation, regularly requiring an average of $304 in fees, more than 300 days of training, and multiple examinations.
The 84th Legislature began to address these issues by repealing certain occupational license requirements and easing the process by which certain occupational licenses may be obtained. As legislators acknowledged this session, professionals operating in the marketplace, in conjunction with consumers, have the capacity for self-regulation that ensure price and quality without costly government intervention.
Notably, House Bill 3742 allows the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to create occupational licensing reciprocity agreements with other states as it sees fit, subject to the Governor’s approval. The bill also allows TDLR to create de facto reciprocity agreements with other states by simply waiving requirements when a person has already demonstrated the same level of competence and skill in another state that is required in Texas. If TDLR uses its new authority, then the economic benefits to the state and to potential licensees could be myriad. Other occupational licensing reforms enacted in 2015 include:
- House Bill 2717 removes references to hair braiding, effectively repealing occupational licensing requirements for the profession of braiding hair in Texas. Prior to enactment of this bill, to be a professional hair braider in Texas a person was required to meet the requirements for occupational licenses in cosmetology and/or barbering in those respective chapters of the Occupations Code.
- House Bill 202 reduces the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) role in occupational licensing and certain other regulatory functions to allow the agency to focus on its core public health mission. The bill partially implements the Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations concerning DSHS, transferring 13 regulatory programs, in two phases, from DSHS to the Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), and an additional four programs from DSHS to the Texas Medical Board (TMB).
- Senate Bill 807, which requires state agencies that issue occupational licenses to waive the license application and examination fees for applicants who are military service members or veterans whose military service and training substantially meets the requirements for the license.
- Senate Bill 1982 will ensure that wholesale motor vehicle auctioneers do not have to hold an auctioneering license issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulation as well as being registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- House Bill 104, which allows a person who holds a barbering & cosmetology license to perform such services at the location of a wedding or other special event.
- House Bill 2481 clarifies that individuals who engage in online auctions by posting items for sale on sites such as Ebay are not required to hold auctioneering licenses, eases various requirements for obtaining auctioneering licenses, and establishes that not every employee of an auction company needs to hold a state-issued license.