WILL Press Release | WILL Applauds Gov. Walker’s occupational licensing reform proposal

 In Press Releases, WILL News

Hopeful state can finally reverse trend of occupational licensing growth

January 23, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) applauds Governor Scott Walker’s proposal for the upcoming budget that would create new “sunrise” and “sunset” review commissions to scrutinize proposed and existing occupational licenses, as well as their burdens on Wisconsin workers.  According to WILL’s Collin Roth, “This is a crucial step towards aligning state interests with economic freedom, not the special interests looking for protection, and giving more Wisconsinites the opportunity to earn a living.”

Authored by Roth and WILL Policy Intern Elena Ramlow, WILL issued a report in November 2016, Fencing Out Opportunity: Occupational Licensing in the Badger State, that provided first-of-its-kind research into the growth and burdens of occupational licensing in Wisconsin. Our findings showed how occupational licensing is a significant – and growing – problem in Wisconsin:

  • A 34% increase over 20 years in the number of credential holders regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).
  • An 84% increase over 20 years in the number of license types regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).
  • An estimated 31,000 fewer jobs each year as a result of licensing under DSPS jurisdiction.
  • An estimated $1.3 billion annually in higher consumer costs as a result of licensing under DSPS jurisdiction.

Currently 10 states have both formal Sunrise and Sunset review committees, which provide needed scrutiny of new and existing worker licenses. These committees can provide recommendations on the proper level of regulation for a given occupation, consider testimony on the burdens of licensure, and consider whether regulation is in fact necessary to protect consumers from clear and substantiated harm.


In Colorado, Arizona, Vermont, and Washington, review committees have recommended against licensing interior designers, art therapists, music therapists, dietitians, landscape architects, massage therapists, and behavior analysts – occupations all currently licensed or regulated by DSPS. More recently, Michigan and Delaware have created review committees with an eye towards eliminating overly burdensome licenses and requirements.


“The experience in other states, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, have proven that review committees can work to balance economic freedom with state interests in health and public safety,” said Roth who has recommended sunset and sunrise as potential solutions to Wisconsin’s licensing problems.

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