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Are Utah licensing laws unfair? Cox wants to remove 'harmful' regulations

The state Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured in April.
The state Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured in April. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox wants a regular review of possibly outdated regulations governing professional licenses.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

Did you know that if someone has been convicted of a felony drug charge in Utah, they would need to wait at least five years before they could become licensed as a cosmetologist? They'd have to wait three years if it was a misdemeanor.

The same applies for an environmental health scientist or a massage therapist.

And any offense involving controlled substances could disqualify a person from obtaining or holding a security alarm company or company agent's license.

Those are just some examples of "moral character" requirements included in the state's professional licensing laws, which the Utah Department of Commerce described in a recent review as "over expansive."

Gov. Spencer Cox and legislators want professional licensing rules to be reviewed regularly after the report found numerous outdated and restrictive regulations that prevent people from obtaining certain jobs.

"Regulatory creep is real. Regulations exist to protect the health and safety of Utah residents, but tend to multiply over time," Cox said in a statement this week.

"The very regulations designed to protect the public can end up hurting Utahns. Frequent checkups will give us the opportunity to remove outdated and harmful regulations so Utahns can participate in the economy safely and efficiently."

The governor has made reducing barriers to job entry through professional licensing a priority since he took office. Cox's first executive order required agencies to review and report their licensing process to his office this summer. In response, the 2021 Utah Legislature debated a number of bills that considered reducing requirements in fields ranging from health care to hair care.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Rep. Joel Ferry, R-Brigham City, are co-sponsoring a new bill to create the licensure review process proposed by Cox.

"While some licensing regulations successfully protect the public from bad actors, others simply make it harder to do business. We have worked hard in the past to improve regulations and want to continue reforming those that unduly hinder commerce," Bramble said in the statement.

The proposed licensure review process will include many agencies, the governor's office said.

The Department of Commerce will collect on the proposed review process at surveymonkey.com/r/Criteria_Input.