Business has ground to a halt. Millions of Americans are out of work. And a senior Federal Reserve official has warned that unemployment could hit 30% in the coming months. Adding insult to injury, local, state, and federal government policies will make it even harder for workers to earn a living when America tries to get back on its feet.
Red tape. Regulations. Bureaucracy. Big Brother. The heavy hand of government takes many forms, but the consequences are the same—and we pay the price. Americans want to get back to work as soon as soon as it’s safe—and the Goldwater Institute wants to make sure government isn’t standing in the way of their success.
This week, we turn our attention to the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on Americans’ ability to earn a living—and how we are working with states to make it easier for us to get to work.
A powerful way to jumpstart the economy
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, state legislatures from coast to coast have paused their legislative sessions. But when sessions do ultimately resume, legislators are going to be seeking pro-growth policy reforms to help boost local economies. And one of those needed reforms is the Goldwater Institute’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work Act.
Breaking Down Barriers to Work makes it easier for Americans to continue working when they move across state lines, meaning they don’t have to re-earn a government permission slip in their new state when they’ve already put in the needed time and training required to do that very same job in another state. Arizona became the first state to pass such a universal recognition law in 2019, and since then, hundreds of Arizonans have benefited from the reform. Several other states have passed similar reforms, and many others have been considering them, too.
Breaking Down Barriers to Work is a boon to hardworking Americans, but during this challenging time, it’s especially needed. “With so much uncertainty ahead as to when many state and local economies will be able to reopen for business, state policymakers can rely on one thing: When that time comes, America’s licensed professionals are trained, ready, and willing to work,” Goldwater Institute Director of Strategic Engagement Heather Curry writes at In Defense of Liberty. “State governments would be well-served to welcome them with open arms, not red tape.”
Life-or-death consequences of big government regulation
During the coronavirus crisis, removing the hurdles that keep Americans from getting to work doesn’t just have economic significance. In some cases, it can have life-or-death consequences.
Goldwater Institute Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez writes at In Defense of Liberty that a shortage of medical workers in the face of soaring demand is leading some states to roll back the regulations that artificially limit the availability of healthcare providers. A growing list of states including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas, and Washington are easing their own licensing restrictions in order to encourage healthcare professionals from elsewhere to practice in their states, bring lapsed or retired workers back into the healthcare workforce, expand the scope of practice for licensed healthcare workers, or transition medical students into the workforce more quickly.
During this healthcare crisis, lowering the barriers to work for medical personnel is a reform that just makes sense. “Allowing healthcare professionals to practice at the top of their medical education and training, coupled with the recognition that these professionals do not lose their knowledge and skills when the cross a state border, has always been and will continue to be sound policy,” Lopez writes.
Home is where the business is
Thanks to technological advances, today’s entrepreneurs have unprecedented opportunities to start businesses from their homes, allowing them to save money, maintain a flexible schedule, and realize their dreams of self-employment. And with the coronavirus outbreak forcing millions of Americans to stay inside, the ability to earn a living from home has taken on a new significance.
But, writes Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur, government doesn’t make it easy for entrepreneurs who want to run their own home-based business. “Unfortunately, scores of outmoded zoning, licensing, and permitting requirements are impeding people’s ability to work from home. Some cities even make operating a home-based business a crime—punishable by stiff financial penalties and even jail time—simply because the business is run from a home instead of an office,” she says.
So what should be done to empower people to live their American Dream, no matter where they work? “When they return to their statehouses, legislators looking to accelerate economic recovery should prioritize laws that protect people’s rights to safely and peacefully work from home,” Sandefur writes. The Goldwater Institute’s Home-Based Business Fairness Act is a perfect example of a law that could help: Under this law, people who work from home and don’t cause disruption to the residential area aren’t required to obtain a costly and time-consuming home occupation license or permit.