March 8, 2019 Print

Earlier this year, Ohio lawmakers empowered workers in the Buckeye State with groundbreaking new legislation that reforms occupational licensing and creates new employment opportunities for thousands of workers. The Buckeye Institute’s efforts were crucial in championing this cause and bringing important reform options to the attention of lawmakers.

With 935,000 state workers requiring a license, and costs to obtain the license averaging around $188 in addition to requiring testing, education, and experience, low-income individuals stand to gain the most from reducing these barriers.

“The Buckeye Institute has been instrumental in fighting for occupational licensing reform for so many years,” said the bill’s co-author, Ohio State Senator Rob McColley. “Now, thanks in large part to Buckeye’s tireless work on these policies, Ohio is a national leader in removing barriers to employment.”

Under this new law, occupational licensing requirements will expire every six years unless actively renewed by lawmakers. Renewal will depend on lawmakers’ ability to demonstrate that the license protects the well-being of society. Restrictions related to convicted felons will also be altered so that potential job-seekers will be able to see if past convictions will prevent them from obtaining a license prior to investing time and money into the necessary training.

Reforms such as these impact the lives of people trying to rebuild after past mistakes. Amanda Spillane of Pennsylvania is one such example. When Spillane was released from prison, she worked hard to build a better future for herself. Only after she balanced working full-time with cosmetology school and secured a job offer that she realized her past convictions would prevent her from the future she had worked for. She is currently partnered with Institute for Justice, another Atlas Network partner, to sue the state for her right to work.

Spillane’s experience has national implications, and stories like hers illustrate how the success of Buckeye’s efforts can impact the lives of people around the country. Ohio is an example for other state-level reforms that will lift barriers to progress and get their residents back to work.

The Buckeye Institute received an Atlas Network grant in support of this project.