Rep. Wolkins has introduced HB 1006 which would deregulate certain professional occupations; professional occupations at least in the sense that they’re regulated under IC 25 — I recognize that in common parlance there is a debate over what constitutes a “profession” as opposed to a job.
It gives optometrists more authority with respect to prescribing drugs. The optometry board is already charged with creating a formulary of legend drugs that can be prescribed by an optometrist. This legislation would allow that list to include controlled substances.
More dramatically, however, the legislation would repeal the statutes that regulate cosmetologists, barbers, dietitians, hearing aid dealers, private investigator firms, and security guards. It also does away with their respective licensing boards.
These are tough ones for me. I certainly understand the concern that you want to go to a barber and not have your hair butchered, not get scammed by a hearing aid dealer, or robbed by a security guard. An incompetent dietitian, if trusted, could cause you serious health problems. But, I also understand the notion that we take risks with the people we hire every day. Mostly we rely on things like reputation and word of mouth, coupled with the laws that prohibit outright crime and dangerous conduct and civil suits that provide for reimbursement for damage caused by negligent conduct. Where to draw the line between what ought to be a regulated profession and what ought not be one isn’t very clear for me. Medical doctors I certainly want regulated. I’m too close to the legal profession to make a judgment on that — there is an interest in making sure you’re being advised and represented by someone who knows what they are doing, but my compensation is no doubt enhanced by the barriers to entering the profession (unless, I suppose, you consider that there are legal but unethical ways to profit yourself at the expense of your client that will get you suspended or disbarred because the profession is regulated.)
When I was at Legislative Services, I got the feeling that a lot of the professional regulation was driven, not so much by pressing safety concerns, as by people who would stand to profit by selling education services, initial or continuing, to the regulated profession. One “tell” that safety wasn’t necessarily an immediate concern is that when a lot of these professions would head into the regulated column, existing practitioners would be “grandfathered” in — i.e. they hadn’t gotten the now necessary education but would be allowed to keep on serving the public into the future.
So, I’m not a knee-jerk deregulator, but I’m certainly open to listening to arguments either way on whether these professions pose special risks to the public such that government ought to keep a closer eye and be more directly involved in assuring the public that practitioners have some minimum level of competence.