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Who’s watching the watchers? Mississippi licensing boards about to get a new boss

By   /   March 29, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

Photo by Steve Wilson

LICENSING CHANGES: The state’s occupational licensing board will have a new overseer under a bill passed by the Mississippi Legislature and awaiting Gov. Phil Bryant’s signature.

The Mississippi House has cleared a bill that would give the governor and other senior state officials more authority over occupational licensing boards. The measure now goes to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.

The House approved the conference report Tuesday; the final version was hammered out during negotiations over the weekend.

The bill would create an Occupational Licensing Review Commission to be composed of the governor, the secretary of state and the attorney general.  The review commission would examine any regulation by an occupational licensing board before it could be placed on the secretary of state’s website and later adopted.

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The supervision of the commission wouldn’t extend to individual disciplinary actions reached by the various licensing boards.

The licensing boards would be required to use the “least restrictive regulation necessary to protect consumers from present, significant and substantiated harms that threaten public health and safety.”

If signed by the governor, the new law would take effect July 1.

By signing the bill, Bryant would make the state compliant with the U.S. Supreme Court 2015 decision North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, in which the court ruled that state licensing boards can receive immunity only if they are actively supervised by the state.

According to an Institute for Justice report, only four states license more occupations than Mississippi. The Magnolia State licenses 55 of 102 low- and middle-income occupations studied by the IJ. The state also has more expansive education requirements for some occupations such as pest control applicators (two years of education and experience vs. 191 days on average in other states) and fire alarm installers (two years of education and experience vs. a national average of 486 days).

Steve Wilson reports for Mississippi Watchdog. Contact him at [email protected] and on Twitter.

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Steve Wilson is the Mississippi reporter for Watchdog.org. Beginning his career as a sports writer, he has worked for the Mobile Press-Register (Ala.), the LaGrange Daily News (Ga.), Highlands Today (Fla.),McComb Enterprise-Journal (Miss.), the Biloxi Sun Herald(Miss.) and the Vicksburg Post (Miss.) Steve's work has appeared on Fox News, the Huffington Post and the Daily Signal. His bachelor's degree is in journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Alabama. Steve is also a member of the Mississippi Press Association and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He served four-plus years in the United States Coast Guard after his high school graduation and is a native of Mobile, Ala.