(The Center Square) — Eliminating some professional licensing requirements could benefit businesses and increase the number of people in the South Carolina workforce.
To improve the working environment, Edward Timmons, director of the Knee Regulatory Research Center at West Virginia University, which recently rebranded from the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation, suggested that South Carolina officials ease regulatory requirements for professions like soil testers, foresters and boxer trainers.
“There’s a model that’s tried and true,” Timmons told The Center Square. “Typically, what we see with a lot of these licenses is a professional association forms, [and] they put together a curriculum. And they even have model legislation that they pitch to state legislators trying to get the legislation passed.
“It creates a barrier because a lot of times when these laws get passed, they contain grandfather clauses, which basically says, if you’re already working, you don’t have to meet these new criteria,” Timmons added. “It’s only the new guys that are going to have to pass all these barriers. I think it gives them a mechanism to control competition.”
While South Carolina officials have room to improve, Timmons said lawmakers made progress this year on eliminating the certificate of need requirement for most healthcare facilities.
“Certainly, on certificate of need, they’ve jumped well ahead of Georgia,” Timmons said. “We had South Carolina licensing 178 of the 331 occupations that we looked at.”
Overall, South Carolina ranked 27th, while neighboring Georgia ranked 32nd, Timmons said.
“The argument that always gets made is that it’s about public safety,” Timmons said of licensing requirements generally. “But it’s hard to make that argument for a lot of these. There’s a lot less costly ways to get at that issue that don’t involve making it a crime to do the job.
“With the labor shortage that’s going on in a lot of these skilled professions, I think looking at all and every avenue to expand folks that are participating in the workforce makes a lot of sense,” Timmons added.