Ohio Begins First Review of Occupational Licenses


Ohio requires a Super-Tough Person Competition License and a Commercial Nuisance Wild Animal Control Operator License. But occupational licenses like these could be on the chopping block now that the Ohio General Assembly is beginning its first mandated review of all the requirements.

The House State and Local Government Committee heard from the Ohio Athletic Commission (OAC) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) on Wednesday.

The review is the result of Senate Bill 255, which requires all occupational licenses and boards to be renewed every six years. It was passed in December.

Both the House and Senate must have a committee examine 33 percent of the boards each biennium so that all boards are reviewed during the six years. Each board has the burden of proving the need for its continued existence and show that it is using the “least restrictive regulation.”

Least restrictive regulation is defined as that which relies on market competition and private remedy to protect consumers.

ODE licenses educators, including teachers, principals, superintendents, paraprofessionals, educational aides, pupil services providers, and coaches.

OAC oversees all unarmed combat sports in Ohio, including professional boxing, mixed martial arts, karate, kickboxing and tough person contests.

Both boards said their function was necessary “to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare” and that none of their licenses or functions could be consolidated or eliminated.

Andrew Kidd, Ph.D., an economist with The Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center, disagrees – at least when it comes to being a licensed super-tough person.

Ohio actually has two licenses for tough man contests: a Super-Tough Person Competition License and a Tough Person Competition License. The licenses allow you to participate in the competition. They are issued by the OAC.

But Kidd believes they’re unnecessary.

“It’s more like a registration,” he says. “You go to a competition and sign up. You have to be of sound mind and have enough physical fitness to participate. The license doesn’t do anything. It’s merely the result of you being able to participate.”

The law says participants can be suspended under certain conditions, and it is the OAC that administers the length of suspensions and hears appeals.

Kidd says that either rules or regulations could protect the individual and questions whether they qualify as the “least restrictive.”

The Buckeye Institute, whose mission is to advance free-market policy in the state, has long advocated for the elimination of various boards and commissions and against “over licensing” through requirement of and for occupational licenses.

This fall, the Institute will publish its own recommendations on the 150 occupational licensing boards that are up for renewal this biennium, Kidd says.

They’ve already started with their top five:

  • Super-Tough Person Competition License and the Tough Person Competition License
  • Commercial Nuisance Wild Animal Control Operator License
  • Fishing Guide License (because it’s only needed on Lake Erie, but no on any other state body of water)
  • Commercial/Noncommercial Propagation License (to sell animals)
  • Dietetics License

“We’re looking at it from a wide range of perspectives,” he explained. “Some of these (licenses) don’t seem related to public safety.”

Kidd says Buckeye wants to know how Ohio compares to other states when it comes to requirements and costs of occupational licenses.

“Are we being too restrictive,” he asks. “Is there a huge cost that can be lowered so we can be competitive with other states?  I’m concerned we don’t have a wide range of occupations because it’s too difficult in Ohio compared to other states.”

While the House plans to have its recommendations in November, the Senate isn’t expected to begin their process until sometime next year. Kidd hopes Buckeye’s research will be considered as part of the final bill that must be passed by the end of 2020.

“We’re going to provide research,” he says. “Here’s what exists, here’s how we compare and here’s our recommendations to help Ohioans start careers.”

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Maggie Leigh Thurber is a writer for The Ohio Star. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 3.0.




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