Report highlights barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and at-risk populations

Baton Rouge, La. (April 16, 2019) – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released a public policy commentary that examines occupational licensing, and notes practices that may negatively affect the Capital Region economy. The full report is available online at brac.org/ppc.

 

The commentary analyzes the licensing requirements of a number of occupations and questions the efficacy of burdensome state-mandated training and testing for entry into fields that often serve as starting points for the state’s most at-risk populations. Specific recommendations from the analysis include narrowly tailoring licensing laws to protect health and safety, eliminating barriers to workforce entry for the rehabilitated, and actively pursuing licensing accessibility for those at risk of recidivism.

“The hurdles created by occupational licenses stymie our regional economy by keeping people out of the workforce,” said Jeff Koonce, managing director with Bernhard Capital Partners and chair of BRAC’s Legislative Committee. “These hurdles are designed to limit competition and disproportionately impact residents attempting to make a life for themselves after incarceration, or simply seeking a career as a small business owner or entrepreneur.”

Key takeaways from BRAC’s report are:

  • Over 100 low-income occupations, such as barbers, cosmetologists, and florists, require state licensure to lawfully gain employment in the state.
  • Studies have shown that states with heavy licensing requirements experience notably lower levels of entrepreneurship.
  • In 2017, over 80 licensed professionals had their occupational licenses suspended because they were behind on student loan payments. Louisiana is one of only 15 states that can suspend an occupational license for delinquent student loan payments. With more than 40,000 post-secondary students, the Capital Region is especially vulnerable to this punitive policy.
  • Also in 2017, the barber licensing board collected approximately $400,000 in fees for licenses and tests.
  • Approximately 3,000 rehabilitated individuals take up private residence in the Capital Region annually. Felony and “good character” provisions in licensure rules may deny these individuals access to employment opportunities. Approximately 20 percent of the state’s African American population could be barred from occupations due to felony bans put in place by licensing boards.

 

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,500 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.

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