Occupational licensing laws are counterproductive. They take time to obtain and can’t be transferred across state lines. Many jobs aren’t filled because people don’t want to put the time, effort, and money into obtaining a license. Licensing laws are another form of government control that is unnecessary and hurts the economy generally because it creates a shortage of workers in a given industry.

The latest example of this involves a Super Bowl MVP and a barber.

On Sunday, Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to a victory in Super Bowl 54, becoming the game MVP in the process. However, Mahomes broke the law and could be facing jail time because of a ridiculous Florida statute.

This is not a joke.

Mahomes broke Florida state law by flying his barber in from Missouri to give haircuts to him and some of his teammates.

Sounds innocuous right? Well, it means something in Florida. Florida prohibits those who earn a barber’s license in one state from cutting hair in their state unless they procure an additional license from the state of Florida.

Bob McClure, writing for FloridaPolitcs.com, wrote, “Florida Statute (476.194) expressly prohibits unlicensed barbers from performing services in the state, with the crime designated as a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in a correctional facility…[It is] the sheer and utter stupidity of state regulation, with a misdemeanor attached to it, stating if you are licensed to cut hair in Missouri you still have to jump through the government hoops to be able to do so in Florida.

This is protectionism plain and simple. Full Stop.”

It is an absurd state law that creates what is referred to as “job lock.” Employees with licensing are less likely to move to other states knowing that they have to go through the licensing process again. Job lock also occurs when a worker is not allowed to take his or her health insurance across state lines because of federal and state mandates.

Fortunately, the Trump administration recognizes the problems with state licensing laws and is encouraging states to make changes to their onerous policies.

The Trump administration recommended that states do the following:

  1. States and territories should ensure that all occupational licensing regulations, including those currently in force, are the least restrictive necessary to protect consumers from significant and substantiated harm, ensure worker safety, and promote competition.
  2. States and territories should ensure that occupational licensure boards consider the negative effects of any proposed regulation on consumers and job seekers.
  3. States and territories should recognize the occupational licenses of other States and territories for those individuals who hold a license in good standing and who have not been subject to any complaint or discipline related to their license.
  4. States and territories should eliminate requirements that needlessly prevent individuals with a criminal record from earning a living in a field unrelated to their criminal conviction.
  5. States and territories should take immediate action to ensure that military spouses who accompany their spouses on permanent change-of-station orders are not adversely affected by occupational licensing regulations.

In the 1950s, about one in twenty required a license to work. Now, that number is one in four. It is absurd that states require these job-killing licenses.

Something tells me that, if the state of Florida charges Mahomes, there will be plenty of Chiefs fans that will pay his bail.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.