All too often, when a new occupational license is proposed in the state Legislature, the measure passes with little scrutiny and a previously unregulated profession is suddenly saddled with the most restrictive form of regulation. These licenses, in turn, can fence out aspiring workers, drive up costs for consumers and stifle innovation.

There are encouraging signs, however, that Wisconsin legislators are willing to slow down the process and consider less restrictive alternatives. When a bill to license a handful of public insurance adjusters in the state was introduced, the Badger Institute encouraged legislators to consider a range of less burdensome options. Legislators listened and voted to implement a voluntary registration for in-state practitioners and a mandatory registration for those from outside Wisconsin. The measure unanimously passed a Senate committee and was passed today by the full Senate.

“This vote is a move in the right direction,” said Julie Grace, policy analyst for the Badger Institute and author of “Absence and Violation,” a new report that examines Wisconsin licensing boards. “Lawmakers should consider the full range of options before moving to fully license a profession. Unless there is potential for demonstrated and substantial harm to public health and safety, a license isn’t justified.”

Optional registration like the one included in this bill provides consumers with valuable information when hiring a public adjuster. It also allows in-state adjusters to choose for themselves — rather than be mandated by the state — whether they want to complete a registration or not. Registration for out-of-state adjusters will address concerns about unscrupulous providers coming into the state to take advantage of Wisconsin residents following a natural disaster.

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