Cartels Gone Wild – State Government Edition

Cutting hair. Selling tulips. Designing that living room makeover. These all seem to be pretty straightforward, above the cuff professions right? Most people would assume that if they saw an opportunity to make some money in the above fields then they should be able to simply acquire the necessary expertise, supplies, space and customers and open up shop. They would be wrong. In Louisiana and many other states, there exists a nasty little thing called “occupational licensing.” At least 69 professions in Louisiana alone require you to get a permission slip from the state before you can start working. Other professions also require federal licenses or some combination of federal + state. In an environment of high unemployment with people clamoring to “get back to work” you’d think that governments would be looking to scale back some of the barriers to entry in even the most basic of industries. Again, you would be wrong.

The stated reasoning behind occupational licenses is always presented as a method of protecting the public. Because clearly, a licensed barber will never give you a bad haircut, a licensed florist will always sell you beautifully long lasting flowers, and without your interior designer being licensed you can’t possibly find someone to design your home in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The reality is at best these are revenue generating annoyances and at worst they are anti-competitive measures backed by the industries themselves to limit new competition (essentially cartel behavior).

Aren’t tried and true methods like referrals, portfolios and testimonials enough to help find reputable people to do these jobs? Modernize the situation and you have Yelp!, Angie’s List, and Consumer Reports to not only find good people but make sure other people know about them if they’re bad. What happened to the state government expecting the consumer to take a little responsibility in doing their homework about a company or proprietor instead of telling us who’s approved? Also, just because you’ve hired someone who’s licensed is still no guarantee they’re any good at what they do. There’s a reason people pay extra to not go to Super Cuts. I am certainly not the first person to bring up these unnecessary government intrusions into working people and entrepreneurs lives. However, I intend to do something about it. I will keep you informed as to my research and efforts to scale back these impediments to the citizens of Louisiana who simply want to support themselves.

*Disclosure. I am FINRA Series 7 and 66 licensed as well as hold Louisiana Life, Health, and Variable Annuity insurance licenses.

Nolatarian Goes to Washington 11/14 – 11/18/11

“Nolatarian Goes to Washington” is a weekly column on the activities of Louisiana Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu and Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond.

Senate

There was only one major vote this week. HR 2112 passed in the Senate, with Vitter dissenting, that authorized appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for “other purposes.” For more on these other purposes. I almost thought I was reading a parody on big government big spending and then I remembered it was a Landrieu press release. Until Congress is able to perform the most basic required function of passing an actual budget, these acts will continually need to be created.

In other events, Landrieu was successful in acquiring an additional $390 million for Louisiana for 2005 storm related hazard mitigation. This is interesting considering the issues with the current program, because why would you have contractor fraud when there’s a pile of over $1 billion for elevation contractors to go after. I guess we can expect to continue hearing stories like this.

After all this redistributing of citizens hard earned income, I’m sure the Senate needs a break.

House of Representatives

Scalise joined on Wednesday in voting for HR 822 that would allow for a national standard of reciprocity for concealed carry firearm permits. The bill passed the House and moves onto the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Hopefully this can continue on to become law. Thursday brought us a little bi-partisan big spending when Scalise joined in the Landrieu appropriations fun in voting for the above mentioned HR 2112; Richmond did not vote. On Friday, a vote to add a Constitutional balanced budget amendment fell 28 votes short. Scalise voted for, Richmond against.

That more or less wraps up the week. Until next time…

November 19 Election Wrap-up

Finally getting this out. November 19 was overall a good election night in my opinion. Kira Orange Jones defeated Louella Givens in BESE District 2 which should give charter school proponents a super-majority to extend reforms throughout the state of Louisiana. A win for public school students and families unhappy with their current school. Also good is the ban on future real estate transfer taxes. Even though the current tax in New Orleans will remain, at least it cannot be raised.

Ray Garofalo won a close race for the 103rd House seat. We’ll follow up to see how true he stays to his stated campaign promises of shrinking government. Other, less known measures allowed the streamlining of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad board of Commissioners and one of the 2 New Orleans East subdivision security districts passed in Lake Barrington.

That will do it for elections in Orleans Parish in 2011. Next on the docket will be qualifying December 7-9 for the March 24, 2012 Presidential and Municipal Primary elections, which will most notably include Arnie Fielkow’s vacated New Orleans City Council seat.

 

Nolatarian Goes to Washington 11/7/11 – 11/11/11

Senate

Mary Landrieu made a lot of disgruntled noise about the Commerce Department revoking an $80 million grant to Louisiana to provide broadband service to rural areas. Because obviously, according to Landrieu the government needs to be in the business of providing high speed internet when the companies who’s business it is to actually do the work don’t see it as a positive cost-benefit situation. Sure, people in those areas would benefit from access to high speed internet, but is that really a basic infrastructure need that the government should be subsidizing in direct competition with existing private companies? I say no.

David Vitter expressed his displeasure with Obama delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election. There weren’t any other really noteworthy events or votes this week in the Senate.

House of Representatives

The House was not in session this week for votes. Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond had a quiet week in their respective committees. One thing of note was Scalise going off on the Christmas Tree tax, which I discussed here.