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More Regulations Coming Your Way

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Each week, hundreds of new rules and regulations are debated in the Texas Legislature. It would be impossible to talk about them all, but it’s important to note that each one affects someone’s life or livelihood. They don’t all affect you directly, but each one targets a fellow Texan.

It seems that there were an over abundance of bills going through this week that will enact new regulations. The bills were submitted by both Democrat and Republican legislators alike and are equally egregious as regulation usually shackles free-market principles in one way or another.

On the House side, we looked at HB 1908 by Rep. John Zerwas (R-HD28) and HB 1260 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-HD21).

Zerwas’ bill is simple. It raises the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. His main argument was that younger high school students can more easily acquire these products from their 18 year old classmates.

Most realize that smoking is bad for your health, but so is war. Many argue if you’re old enough to die in armed service to your country, you should be legally able to make adult purchases.

Many conservatives have bemoaned for years the fact that millennials behave like spoiled children even late into their 20’s. The question before the legislature will be whether to continue to treat these adults as children, or allow them to take responsibility for themselves.

Only two states have raised the purchase age to 21 – Hawaii and California which are considered to be two of the most liberal states in America. For Texas, considered to be one of the most conservative states in American, to even be considering this change should raise some eyebrows.

Phelan’s bill is a bit more obscure, but creates a new occupational license. As a Republican, Phelan has set himself in direct contradiction to plank 204 of the state party’s 2016 platform which calls for a review of existing licenses and the abolition of those licenses wherever possible.

The reasons for opposing occupational licenses range from the regulations causing excessive costs, training, and paperwork on those who are in the process of starting a business thus killing initiative or their ability to be downright prohibitive because of their excessive nature.

These licenses affect many professions, from plumbers to barbers. They are always sold as consumer protections. But many see them as barriers to entry in the job market.

In 2015, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that “hair threaders,” like the ones in malls who trim your eyebrows, cannot be forced to obtain a hairdresser’s license. In fact, Justice Don Willet said, “The Court’s view is simple, and simply stated: Laws that impinge your constitutionally protected right to earn an honest living must not be preposterous.” Willet even pointed out at the time that the old independent Republic of Texas only required a license for one profession: doctors.

A report released by Governor Gregg Abbott found that 150 professions in Texas require an occupational license today. He also cited a study which found that these occupational licenses can reduce job growth by 20%.

Phelan’s bill would create a license for “commercial gulf shrimp unloading.” The legislature, and maybe eventually the courts will decide whether this is, as Justice Willett put it, “preposterous.”

Both bills were left pending in committee.

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