So says the Washington-based Institute for Justice, described on its website (www.ij.org) as “the nation’s only libertarian, civil liberties, public interest law firm.”
According to a recent IJ study summarized by Walter Jones of Morris News Service, Georgia places tougher than average hurdles before people trying to get or keep what are mostly lower-income jobs.
Georgia isn’t the worst — that unenviable distinction, according to the report, goes to Hawaii, followed by Arkansas and Nevada. But Georgia is still ranked 18th worst, not exactly a glowing assessment.
And some of the requirements look especially curious relative to others.
For instance, the Morris story says the average Georgia professional license — again, for lower-income fields — costs $167 and requires about a year of training. Some specifics: Minimum state requirements for an emergency medical technician include 31 days of training and a $95 license fee.
By contrast, a $446 fee and 1,462 days of training — more than four years, even if training is seven days a week, which it almost certainly isn’t — is required for a commercial air conditioning and heating contractor.
“These inconsistencies may reflect not the relative public health and safety risks of occupations,” the study’s authors wrote, “but instead the lobbying prowess of practitioners in securing laws to shut out competition.” In Georgia, where lobbyists are virtually unregulated, that can’t come as much of a surprise.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp pushed a 2011 bill to reform the licensing, permit and fee schedule. It didn’t survive the last legislative session, but a modified version will be introduced in the next one. His office has created a webpage (http://sos.ga.gov/cuttheredtape) to collect suggestions.
When earning and advancement opportunity is more difficult and expensive for people of modest means, the state’s whole economy is in jeopardy.