May 7, 2021
By Jenna Bentley
Regardless of their political affiliation, every policymaker should strive to make it easier for Americans to earn a living and work in the job of their choice. Yet it is often government restrictions—in the form of administrative agency rules and regulations, including occupational licensing regulations—that create high hurdles to work.
But today, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed House Bill 2759, a Goldwater Institute reform that will help lower these barriers, provide meaningful accountability for administrative rules, and make working in the job of one’s choice a reality rather than a promise.
Put in place by unelected and often unaccountable bureaucrats, administrative rules, and regulations never shrink: They grow each and every year. Although they are largely adopted without input from the legislature and without accountability to any independent body, they can result in significant consequences for Arizonans, including fines and denials of licenses and permits.
This is particularly important in the context of occupational licensing rules, where boards and commissions have the power to impose onerous licensing restrictions on who, when, and where people can work in the job of their choice. And they can impose those requirements with little or no consequence.
The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) provides independent oversight over administrative agencies and their rules and regulations and can provide an important check on the authority of these agencies, including rules impacting the right to earn a living. Up until now, a person could petition GRRC to review administrative rules and regulations, including occupational licensing regulations, but the scope of GRRC’s reviewing authority was somewhat limited. If GRRC found that an occupational regulation is unduly burdensome, or does not advance a health or safety objective, GRRC could modify, revise, or set aside the rule, but a person could only petition GRRC in this manner if the occupational license they hold was in an industry where the average income is 200% or below the federal poverty standard. This meant that boards that oversee professions like accountants, pharmacists, or doctors were unable to utilize the GRRC petition procedure. And these protections did not apply to other sorts of administrative regulations that did not have to do with occupational licensing.
But HB 2759 expands the current law by:
- Removing the requirement that the average income in a profession is 200% or below the federal poverty standard in order to petition GRRC to review the rule; and
- Allowing a party to petition GRRC to review unduly burdensome rules and regulations and rules that do not advance a health or safety objective outside the context of occupational licensing.
GRRC conducts this review under existing council practices, so there is no procedural change or undue burdens on the council.
HB 2759 is a needed reform that will help keep administrators accountable and make it easier for Arizonans to pursue the career they want. The Goldwater Institute thanks Governor Ducey and our Sponsor Representative Travis Grantham for their support of this important effort.
Learn more about Goldwater’s work to reduce regulatory barriers here.
Jenna Bentley is the Director of Government Affairs at the Goldwater Institute.