5. OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING:
Reform Would Deregulate Pesticide Applicator Standards
Nearly one quarter of workers in the United States require a license to do their jobs, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Policymakers often push for occupational licensing reform in their states to help keep consumers safe and expand job opportunities for workers.
Occupational licensing reform calls for the deregulation of pesticide applicator licensing standards, which could harm the professionalism of the pest management industry. It would be detrimental to the pest management industry because:
- Pesticide applicators could be regulated by regional EPA offices, instead of the state lead agency, such as the Department of Agriculture in most states.
- Untrained workers may be allowed to apply RUPs.
- Underprepared workers could make serious mistakes that would give the pest control industry a bad reputation.
Occupational licensing laws require workers to verify they received the training, testing and education before they can get jobs in their chosen fields. Often, they are required to pay licensing fees. The goal is to protect the public from health and safety risks that may occur with unlicensed workers.
But because licensing laws are established by each state government, licensing requirements often differ in many states.
The issue of occupational licensing reform arises when legislators attempt to make it easier for people to get work in fields that require licenses. These include occupations such as hair braiders, barbers and building inspectors. Pesticide applicators often are included in deregulation discussions. No state is immune from potential deregulation.
Licensing laws are implemented with the intention of protecting the health and safety of consumers by creating barriers to employment — through testing, training and fees — in professions considered dangerous. Excessive requirements, however, can create barriers to employment for individuals who may not actually pose a serious risk. As a result, legislators in some states have made efforts to remove licensure requirements determined to be overly burdensome.
In Tennessee, for example, bills were proposed that would have deregulated pest control, and one of them would have removed felony penalties for people impersonating pest control operators, the NPMA says. The proposed legislation in Tennessee did not pass.
Occupational licensing is evolving in many states, however. In some cases, legislators want to make it easier for workers in their states to find jobs, especially since the unemployment rate rose because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are calling for an increase in the oversight of licensing boards in their states to avoid a conflict of interest when licensing rules are written by those in the industry that is to be regulated. In many states, new licensing requirements have been changed, eliminated or adopted for some occupations.
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