Updated 01/03/2013 05:10 PM
Legislators to examine business license requirements in NC
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CHARLOTTE – State lawmakers say they're looking into the licenses required to do business in North Carolina.
Critics say many of the licenses are unnecessary and they discourage competition.
"In North Carolina, in particular, landscape contractor is one of the toughest occupations to break into. It requires three years of experience,” said Lisa Knepper, who studies professional licenses at the Institute for Justice, a Washington advocacy group.
Knepper says North Carolina is one of just 10 states that require licenses for landscape contractors.
"Folks will tell you it's about protecting public safety, but really, most often, it's about protecting existing businesses from competition," she said.
Knepper says her research found glaring examples of that. North Carolina requires 1,095 days of training or experience to earn a landscape contractor's license. But the state mandates a just one-tenth of that -- 184 days -- to be a licensed school bus driver.
Emergency Medical Technicians need 39 days of training and tests to save your life, but to cut your hair, barbers must complete 722 days.
"There doesn't seem to be a rational basis for it,” said state House Speaker Thom Tillis.
For three months, News 14 Carolina tried to contact the businesses, organizations and people who lobbied for tougher licensing requirements for landscape contractors. But no one returned our calls and emails.
Tillis says the legislature is going to rein in excessive regulations starting this month.
"They're going to be sunset unless the regulators can come before the General Assembly and justify why they should be there,” he said.
Knepper says the regulatory requirements squeeze competition out of the industry, allowing companies to charge higher prices for their services.
"What we see time and time again is that politically-connected industry insiders lobby for laws that make it tougher for newcomers to break into the business," she said.
According to the Institute for Justice, in the 1950s, about one out of every 20 American jobs required a license. Today, that number is closer to one in three.