On May 19, Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little was acting as governor while Gov. Butch Otter was out of Idaho. And, he took an interesting action.
He signed an executive order directing various state agencies and departments to review their regulation of a wide swath of Idaho occupations, including accountants, cosmetologists, podiatrists, dentists, psychologists, plumbers, geologists, real estate agents, athletic trainers, contractors, midwives and more.
As a Republican candidate for Idaho governor in 2018, Little is clearly trying to build his cred as an advocate for deregulation. Thus, his executive order directs each Idaho regulatory body regulating an Idaho profession to prepare a report detailing:
- How long it takes to approve or deny a license
- Requirements to obtain a license and make suggestions for any requirements that can be eliminated.
- Requirements for renewing a license
- Grounds for denying a license or renewal and a summary of the numbers denied and the reasons for that denial
- Grounds for disciplinary actions including a summary of the number of actions taken and the reasons
- The fees charged for licensing and renewal and the cost of processing an individual license
- Any actions taken in the past five years to minimize barriers to entering the occupation
- Why licensing requirements are in the public interest
- Recommendations for the improvement, modification or elimination of requirements for a license
Where does Idaho stand in terms of jobs requiring a license? There are no clear numbers.
The best data I could find was a 2015 survey by federal Bureau of Labor Statistics which estimated that 21.9% of all those employed in the United States were in a profession that required some sort of license. Idaho’s licensure reported rate was somewhat higher at 23.3%. Even with some flaws in the study, the indication is that Idaho requires occupational licenses at a rate equal or even a bit above the national average.
Most licensees nationally are for medically related professions. It is unclear how Idaho shakes out on that front. Idaho does regulate a wide array of medical positions.
One of the agencies subject to this order is the Idaho Real Estate Commission (IREC). I have had a real estate license for years and teach classes to real estate licensees. Here is how I see the order applying to IREC.
As of May of this year, it regulates 11,267 people with an Idaho real estate license.
As I tell my students, the rationale for licensing real estate professionals is to “protect the public”, primarily because of the size of real estate transactions and the financial impact of such on Idahoans.
Currently, obtaining an Idaho real estate license requires 90 hours in pre-licensing classes, a fingerprint background check and a passing score on a national and state exam. Those with a recent criminal history or denial or suspension of some previous occupational license are sharply limited in their ability to apply. The cost of a license is $160 and applications are usually approved a few days after submission.
How could the requirements for an Idaho real estate license be streamlined? One option would be to cut education requirements or reduce testing or eliminate the fingerprint check. My own sense is those requirements are not enormous barriers to entry and they serve a valid purpose in requiring some minimal level of understanding and scrutiny before issuance of a license. I don’t see a pressing need for a loosening of the requirements. I often hear from current licensees that the requirements should be increased, not reduced.
Each agency or department is supposed to solicit input from the public and provide its report by next July. If you have a license or care about a particular profession, now is your chance to speak up. I will be interested to see if the feedback favors reducing licensing requirements, maintaining them as-is or, even, boosting them.