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The Platte Institute for Economic Research has found a worthy cause with its push to reduce the amount of regulatory red tape that ensnarls entrepreneurs and growing businesses in Nebraska.

The Omaha-based conservative think tank said earlier this month that it is working with Gov. Pete Ricketts to review the nearly 200 occupations that require a government license under state law.

“In many cases, Nebraska’s rivals and our neighboring states have more reasonable licensing requirements,” the Platte Institute says on its website. “For example, cosmetologists or barbers have to take 2,100 hours of training in Nebraska, which can cost up to $20,000, while most states require 1,500 hours or less. A massage therapy license in Nebraska requires 1,000 hours of training, while most states require 500-700.”

Sen. Nicole Fox of Omaha, who succeeded in exempting natural hair braiding from licensing requirements during the legislative session earlier this year, will join the Platte Institute in January when her term expires.

“We’re not looking at getting rid of all licensing, but we’re looking at how can we make Nebraska competitive but still make sure that we’re ensuring safety and the health of the public,” Fox told the Journal Star.

The Platte Institute said that Nebraska’s regulations don’t stand up well when they are subjected to legal challenge. Nebraska’s courts overturned roughly 37.8 percent of regulations, substantially higher than the 20-27 percent range for Colorado, Florida, and Iowa, the organization reported.

Obviously, going to court to challenge regulations costs money and takes time that could be devoted to more productive pursuits, so the success of those legal challenges hints at a larger problem.

The institute suggests sensibly that requiring sunset provisions on regulations would automatically create a natural process for getting older, outdated, and inefficient regulations off the books.

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Jim Vokal, CEO of the Platte Institute, says that occupational licensing affects one in four U.S. workers and is “the biggest labor force issue in the country today.”

Support for getting outdated licensing requirements can be found on both ends of the political spectrum.

In a report last year the White House Council of Economic Advisors and other federal agencies declared, “There is evidence that licensing requirements raise the price of goods and services, restrict employment opportunities and make it more difficult to take their skills across state lines.”

Regular readers of this page know that the Journal Star editorial board occasionally differs with the Platte Institute on its policy nostrums. This time, however, the think tank is on track to doing something beneficial for the state’s economy.


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