Pence, who took office in January, put Senate Bill 520 on his legislative priority list this session and campaigned on the idea of eliminating a wide range of occupational licenses, calling them a deterrent to employment. In his much-touted “Roadmap for Indiana,” Pence called for the creation of a regulatory committee “for the express purpose of reducing the number of occupational licenses.”
Dubbed the ERASER Committee (for “Eliminate, Reduce And Streamline Employee Regulation”), the appointed body was also to be tasked with a “sunrise” review of legislation creating any new occupational licenses.
Pence called the bill part of his effort to eliminate regulatory barriers to employment, but some people covered by the current occupational licensing requirements howled in protest. Some of the strongest opposition to the bill came from hairdressers and cosmetologists who said licensing actually boosted their odds for employment, since their license is seen as a measure of their training and proficiency. They also see their license as an indicator they’ve been trained in handling chemicals necessary to their job.
Mary Taylor, an instructor at the Prosser Career Education Center in New Albany, opposed the bill because of concerns that the lack of licensing would negatively affect the job opportunities of her students.
“It’s not just a little group of cosmetologists here in Indiana, it’s all over,” Taylor said. “In order to work for Redken or Paul Mitchell or other cosmetology product sellers, you have to be licensed.”
Under Senate Bill 520, the occupations that faced the automatic elimination of licensing requirements also included dietitians, home inspectors, land surveyors, massage therapists, professional soil scientists, real estate brokers, certified surgical technologists and several others.
The bill’s original language, supported by Pence, would have set in motion a process to automatically eliminate licensing requirements for 35 different occupations. The Senate reduced that number to 13 occupations.