by Tyler Arnold
A Tennessee subcommittee voted Wednesday to temporarily pass on legislation that would eliminate licensing laws for locksmiths until after the state passes its budget.
House Bill 1843‘s primary sponsor, Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, told the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee that the state’s licensing requirement has contributed to the downfall of the industry. He said there were about 5,000 locksmiths in the state when the state started mandating the license in 2006, but this number dropped to below 1,000 in 2016.
One of the committee members, Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) told the committee he will support this legislation because the state should do what it can to assist an industry that is shrinking because of technology.
Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin) voiced concern for the legislation. He said eliminating this license could lead to a slippery slope in which the state Legislature continues eliminating licenses.
The repeal legislation was crafted with the help of two free-market groups: Tennessee Americans for Prosperity and the Tennessee-based Beacon Impact, which is affiliated with the Beacon Center.
“Tennesseans shouldn’t have to ask the government for permission to work and earn a fulfilling living,” Tori Venable, AFP’s Tennessee director, told The Center Square in an email. “Requiring locksmiths to get licenses before they can work only serves as a barrier for people who want to earn a fulfilling living and does nothing to protect the health and safety of consumers. We’re urging lawmakers to help make it easier for people to work and support this common-sense bill.”
Beacon Impact CEO Justin Owen told The Center Square in an email there are 36 states that do not require a license for locksmithing and they still are able to protect consumers.
Owen said Tennessee should do away with the “costly and time-consuming licensing process” that prospective locksmiths need to go through. He said this regulation is stifling innovation and making it difficult for a person to earn a living as a locksmith.
“Our focus isn’t on protecting any given industry, but to protect Tennesseans’ right to earn a living,” Owen said. “Just like repealing the license to braid hair, after which more women began practicing hair braiding than had done so during the 20 years that the licensing law was in place, we believe repealing the locksmith license will make it easier for Tennesseans to earn a living as a locksmith without jumping unnecessary and costly licensing hoops.”
Owen said that this licensing problem is rampant, and cited other licensing laws he believed to be unnecessary, such as a barber and an auctioneer.
The measure to place the bill behind the budget did not receive any objections.
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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Tennessee for The Center Square.