Transparency for Alabama’s licensing boards
In Alabama, something I have seen across this state is that we don’t tend to take too much for granted. We want to live a life that allows us to provide for our family, whether that is starting a small business, serving the local community as a barber, or helping other citizens find the perfect home in the real estate field.
These are fundamental parts of life, ways that we can help our neighbor and also help our family have the life they deserve. However, this is being threatened by an alarming rise in the expansion of Alabama licensing boards that are crushing competition in our state.
The barriers that the boards have put in place started as measures to protect the consumer and ensure that each worker is trained and equipped to perform their job. Now? The fees have skyrocketed, the requirements continue to add up, and are constantly changing.
The Alabama Policy Institute recently conducted a study on the rising costs being placed on Alabama businesses, putting the total costs of obtaining a license at $122 million, and the total cost of renewing licenses at $45 million.
These numbers are already a ridiculous burden, but even further, the same study put the cost of the initial education requirements for a license at $65 billion and continuing education needed to meet the changing standards dictated by these boards is an additional $243 million. In comparison, government spending throughout our entire state is less than the total costs the boards impose on business.
These licensing boards control over one-fifth of our state workers, requiring them to meet the standards that are determined only by the boards’ members. This means that many board-regulated professions which work together suffer double jeopardy style fines when one side fails to meet the board’s requirements.
For example, if a restaurant requires repairs to keep it running and serving the community, it hires a construction company. If the construction company accepts the job but fails to tell the restaurant it has an expired license, the licensing board fines both the construction company and the restaurant. This type of draconian regulation makes it near impossible to continue to run a business without offending the board and getting hit with absurd fines.
Sadly, many of our citizens are unaware of the boards because they seem to fear transparency just as much as they enjoy regulating. I had the privilege of serving on our House Budget Reform Task Force, where we discovered many irregularities from the boards.
The boards rarely even put the money they collect into the state treasury to at least give back to the taxpayers in some way; they put this money into private bank accounts.
This is an issue I am tired of seeing in our state, and I am taking action this year to prevent this lack of transparency for our citizens.
My first step is to enact reform so the citizens can know where their money is being spent. I have introduced a bill that will subject each board to contract review. In addition, I introduced another bill, which will require every board to put its income and expenditures online for all citizens to see.
The taxpayers already pay enough into this system; the least we can do is allow them to know where their money is going.
These changes would bring much-needed improvement to our economy, businesses, and citizens of Alabama. My bills are a long overdue step to stopping these boards from operating in the shadows. It will bring transparency for our taxpayers, accountability to these regulatory bodies and provide our citizens with more economic freedom.
Paid for by Chris Pringle Campaign 4 Princess Anne Rd. Mobile Alabama 36608