[r18] Setting the record straight (1/25/2012)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Start Date: 1/25/2012
End Date: 1/25/2012

As a state legislator, you are presented with a tough job. It is a job that requires you to take on a responsibility that involves making tough decisions and casting tough votes. No, I am not talking about Right to Work legislation. I am talking about House Bill 1006, which deals with licensing in Indiana.

I seldom am associated with controversial bills—I may vote in support of them, but seldom am I the author. I believe in less government, which was where the idea behind House Bill 1006 came from. One of every six working Hoosier is required to have some kind of professional license through the state.

In 2010, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that created the Regulatory Occupational Evaluation Committee, also known as ROEC, to establish a framework to evaluate regulatory activities related to professional licensing.

The first report released by ROEC included seven licensing board evaluations, which recommended the state to retain three and eliminate four.

The three ROEC recommended retaining include: Indiana Optometry Board, State Board of Health Facility Administrators and State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers. The four ROEC recommended to eliminate include: Indiana Dietitian’s Certification Board, Committee on Hearing Aid Dealers, Security Guard and Private Investigators Board, and the State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners. 

ROEC’s evaluation of whether or not each of the seven professions should have governmental regulatory protection was the issue—it was not to be interpreted as a reflection of ROEC’s perception of the professions.

I was asked to take on the legislation that included ROEC’s recommendations because I strongly support small government. The whole goal of House Bill 1006 was so that the state could be less involved. It was not to ridicule any profession.

This issue, however, has been all over the media because of the loud, public outcry opposing the bill. Those in opposition mainly included cosmetologists. They came to the Statehouse last week to give public testimony against the bill. I have to say, it was a refreshing scene to see cosmetologists take over the Statehouse versus the usual union protesters. They were polite and respectful, and were given their opportunity to speak.

The best part of the democratic process is allowing the public to speak for or against legislation. So I was pleased to see such an outpour of public testimony and cooperation. After the committee meeting was held, I met with several members of ROEC and state legislators to discuss possible amendments or changes. One of those amendments included not eliminating the State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, but make slight changes to how the licensing is done.

Saying that, even though I agree with the overall goal of the legislation—that being less government involvement—I understand that this is not the year to do it, and this is not the legislation to do it with. I decided to withdraw the bill because we can do better.