Libertarian State Senator Laura Ebke’s Occupational Licensing Bill

Reason.com:

Laura Ebke of Nebraska is the Libertarian Party’s only sitting state senator. A bill she introduced to reform her state’s occupational licensing regime got an enthusiastic and lengthy write-up this week in The Wall Street Journal (without, alas, naming the senator or her party affiliation).

The Occupational Board Reform Act (L.B. 299) would change the incentive structure and process by which Nebraska decides the most rational and least restrictive way to ensure consumer safety without unduly harming people’s ability to work.

The state has been interested in “chipping away at occupational licenses one by one” for a while, Ebke said in a phone interview yesterday. (For example, last year the state eliminated licensing requirements for hair braiders.) Then last year she “was approached by the Institute for Justice to see if I would be interested in carrying some model legislation they had put together, and I was very interested.”

One of the more colorful case studies, described in the Journal story, involves massaging horses, which leaves you open in Nebraska to a possible four years in jail and a $35,000 fine if you do it unlicensed. That issue, Ebke says, has been “under control of the veterinarians medical licensure,” who had lobbying power. Ebke saw it as a teachable moment: “Does it make sense,” she asked her colleagues, “to demand a license to give a rubdown to a 1,200-pound creature?”

The final vote on the measure is expected next week, and Ebke is confident it will make it to the governor’s desk and be signed. One of her main allies in the process is a Nebraska-based free market think tank, the Platte Institute, founded by the sitting governor Pete Ricketts.

Read more…

(This article was posted to Reason.com on April 6, 2018, the bill’s progress can be followed here.)

Link to Laura Ebke’s campaign website

Update April 18, 2018 from Reason.com

Nebraska lawmakers struck a rare tri-partisan blow against onerous occupational licensing laws on the 60th and final day of the 2018 legislative session, voting 45–1 to pass a major reform bill authored by Libertarian state Sen. Laura Ebke.

Ebke’s Occupational Board Reform Act requires state lawmakers to undertake a review of Nebraska’s occupational licensing laws with an eye toward loosening or eliminating requirements that serve as barriers to employment without benefiting public safety. The bill requires that licensing laws “respect the fundamental right of an individual to pursue an occupation” and instructs lawmakers to favor less restrictive forms of regulation—which could include private certification, registration, insurance or bonding requirements, inspections, open market competition, or a combination of these approaches—in circumstances where one-size-fits-all licensing rules violate that right.

“It will help give power back to Nebraskans to cut the hidden tax of red tape that is creating barriers for working people across our state,” says Jim Vokal, CEO of the Platte Institute, a Nebraska-based think tank.

The bill’s backers included the free-marketeers at the Platte Institute and the licensing reform campaigners at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that helped craft the bill. But it also won support across the political spectrum. The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sponsored a series of events at locations around the state highlighting the bill’s importance, and the conservatives at the Wall Street Journal editorial page called the bill a “model for licensing reform.”

“We still need the signature of the governor, but we’re optimistic,” Ebke says. Passing with such overwhelming support—including “yes” votes from lawmakers who had opposed the bill at early stages in the legislative process—makes it increasingly likely that Ricketts will sign the bill, she notes. Although it passed with a veto-proof majority, there will not be an opportunity to overturn a veto because the legislative session ends today.

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26 thoughts on “Libertarian State Senator Laura Ebke’s Occupational Licensing Bill

  1. Anon-Tipper Post author

    I updated the article to point out that this was published last week and included a link to follow the bill’s progress. Looks like it’s at the Final Reading stage as of April 10th.

  2. Andy

    Great news.

    Now let’s see if the Libertarian Party can get Ms. Ebke re-elected.

    Note that Ms. Ebke was elected as a Republican, and switched to Libertarian while in office.

    Also, note that Nebraska has a unicameral legislature (one house), and that it is considered to be an officially non-partisan office (as in they do not print party labels on the ballot for this office). The elections for the Nebraska legislature are held under a Top Two Primary system, where only the Top Two vote getters move on to the general election ballot.

  3. Anon-Tipper Post author

    Looks like the primary ballot in her district will have:
    Al Riskowski
    Laura Ebke (I)
    Tom Brandt

    I don’t know if Nebraska lists the incumbent (as in I don’t know if they will put “(Incumbent)” after Laura’s name on the ballot).

    Just from googling, it looks like both Riskowski and Brandt are Republicans, I had heard of the GOP trying to “warn” their voters of Ebke because of her showing a film to constituents and something about either the current or a former governor campaigning against her; I’m not sure of what effect this will have.

  4. Andy

    The Libertarians ought to send contributions and manpower to Ebke’s district, or else there there is a good chance she will lose.

    Ebke sounds libertarian enough to merit Libertarian Party help, unlike that Assembly John Moore jackass in Nevada, who bilked LP donors for $10’s of thousands of dollars, and stabbed them in the back.

  5. Anon-Tipper Post author

    There’s 2/3 chains on the LNC mailing list about her campaign and donations: http://hq.lp.org/pipermail/lnc-business/2018/012640.html

    I skimmed it quickly, but looks like there might be some limitations to donations imposed by Nebraska. They’re also worried about the governor (or former governor?) using the LNC donations against her.

    But yes I agree! I think she is well within the umbrella and deserves support. Her website (https://lauraebke.com/) has a donation and volunteer link. I’m going to edit and add a link to her campaign website in the original article so people don’t miss it.

  6. Andy

    FYI, Ms. Ebke has come out and called herself a pro-life Libertarian (I do not know the specific details of her stance beyond that).

  7. Anon-Tipper Post author

    Andy, I found her statement on abortion on her website (https://lauraebke.com/issues/protecting-life#.WtE7dC7wa70) I’m not entirely sure if she is just personally pro-life (and also does not want public funding for it) or if she wants it to be actually illegal, it’s kind of vague.

    She stated her to the AEI (http://www.aei.org/publication/a-libertarianism-for-conservatives/) that she would vote “on the pro-life” side, so maybe she does.

    Interested if anyone here who is pro-choice would make this something that would change their view of her or if they’re okay if she’s with them on every other issue.

  8. Anthony Dlugos

    Its impossible for any party in this country to have a membership that is 100% pro-life, or 100% pro-choice, or 100% on ANY issue, frankly…least of all abortion. There are pro-life democrats and there are pro-choice republicans. I would not be a very good pragmatic if I didn’t accept that reality and learn to live with it, understanding that, in an alternate future with a successful Libertarian Party, there will be pockets of the party that skew pro-life, likely in states that skew pro-life.

    Pragmatically, the only intersection with me would be if a person with the Ebke position on abortion wanted to run for a leadership position or on the ballot in Ohio, or wanted to run for a national position, up to an including on the Prez/VicePrez ticket, or if such a person wanted to weaken the platform position on abortion, either Ohio or the national platform.

    In any of those cases, we’d have a fight on our hands. That being said, I wouldn’t rule someone like Ebke AUTOMATICALLY out of, say, a spot on the Prez/Vice Prez ticket in the future. It would just take some softening of her position on the issue, or such an incredible record otherwise that I would be willing to overlook it.

  9. Anon-Tipper Post author

    Anthony,

    I basically agree. I’m okay with some deviation and I don’t think we’ll get everyone on board with pro-choice. From what I can tell, she isn’t trying to do anything like change the platform, so for now, I’m okay with her and think she fits in the party well enough.

    I don’t know what her future plans are (IIRC Nebraska has term limits, so she will be out at the end of next term, if she wins reelection), so it will be interesting if she sticks around and participates in the party, helps new candidates, etc.

  10. Anthony Dlugos

    She’s a Nebraskan, so that means she a salt-of-the-Earth Midwesterner. Those types of people are rarely interested in telling people elsewhere how to live, or making a spectacle of themselves in order to turn a pro-choice party into a Prohibitionist party. They may feel strongly about an issue in their own backyard, but they are predisposed to NOT foisting it on people in, say, New York.

    I’m not suggesting she’s running for President, but if someone like that were, she’d most likely fall somewhere in the “leave abortion up to the states” camp. Not a position I like, but its not as bad as full-on prohibitionist.

  11. DJ

    Meet The Abortion ‘Abolitionist’ Running For Oklahoma Governor

    Q: Diagnose the problem of abortion in Oklahoma.

    DF: [Abortion] has remained legal in Oklahoma for 44 years, going on 45, because people, by-and-large, are convinced that whatever the Supreme Court says is the final word. Obviously, we don’t believe that. First, we don’t believe that the Supreme Court had the constitutional authority to mandate to all 50 states that they have to allow the murder of the unborn. So, it remains because Oklahoma allows it to.

    Secondly, most of the debate and struggle has ultimately ended up in the courts, and generally, federal judges are not going to rule against the home team, meaning [abortion] remains legal until some state somewhere stands up and says, “No.” [A right to abortion and judicial supremacy] betray the basic principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, that the job of government is to secure life, liberty, and property. But liberty and property don’t mean a whole lot if you don’t secure life first.

    http://thefederalist.com/2018/04/13/meet-abortion-abolitionist-running-oklahoma-governor/

  12. Anon-Tipper Post author

    Anthony: “she’d most likely fall somewhere in the “leave abortion up to the states” camp. Not a position I like, but its not as bad as full-on prohibitionist.”

    Yeah that’s what I think her position would be too.

    Either way, I’m really glad that we’re pushing for licensing reform right now, it’s something where we are and can make some really great changes.

  13. Andy

    “Anthony Dlugos
    April 14, 2018 at 11:08
    Its impossible for any party in this country to have a membership that is 100% pro-life, or 100% pro-choice, or 100% on ANY issue, frankly…least of all abortion. There are pro-life democrats and there are pro-choice republicans. I would not be a very good pragmatic if I didn’t accept that reality and learn to live with it, understanding that, in an alternate future with a successful Libertarian Party, there will be pockets of the party that skew pro-life, likely in states that skew pro-life.”

    I agree with Anthony here. This doesn’t seem to happen too often.

  14. paulie

    I agree too. Where I start to have an issue is not when some people disagree with a given party position but when they make that a major focus and put a bunch of time and effort into changing the party’s positions.

  15. Matt Cholko

    I appreciate that Ms. Ebke is working on this issue. It is very important, and it sounds like her bill would move things in the right direction. That’s great!

    With that said, why is a Libertarian trying to create a new office to review this stuff? Nebraskans are lucky that she wasn’t able to find some of their stolen money to use for that purpose.

  16. Matt Cholko

    Next to last paragraph at Reason – “She hoped initially to get legislators and their staffs entirely insulated from the process, via a separate office of occupational licensing review, but “the money wasn’t there to create a new office.”

  17. Anon-Tipper Post author

    paulie: “Where I start to have an issue is not when some people disagree with a given party position but when they make that a major focus and put a bunch of time and effort into changing the party’s positions.”

    Yeah, that’s why I am fine with her position. She’s not trying to make everyone else agree with her, she’s not trying to change the platform, etc. I think she’s great for the party.

    Matt: ” “She hoped initially to get legislators and their staffs entirely insulated from the process, via a separate office of occupational licensing review, but “the money wasn’t there to create a new office.””

    Is this office to review the existing licensing laws and see where they can make reforms? It seems like she’s trying to streamline the process? I’m not familiar enough with the bill.

  18. Just Some Random Guy

    Glad to see this getting some coverage. I legitimately do think that Laura Ebke’s re-election is one of the most important, if not the most important, elections for the Libertarian Party this year because if re-elected it would demonstrate that someone can change to a third party and still win re-election. I’m sure there are a number of elected politicians who would be interested in swapping parties, but don’t want to take the step due to fear that losing the support of a major party would cause. Proof positive that it’s possible to change to a third party and win re-election is a really big deal. Indeed, even for third parties other than the Libertarian Party this could be a boon, simply by showing it’s possible to change to *a* third party and win.

    I therefore urge everyone, even if they don’t completely agree with her, to try to give her some level of support.

  19. paulie

    That would also be true of the NH legislators who switched to LP. Connecticut is in talks with several who are considering switching as well.

  20. Anon-Tipper Post author

    “I therefore urge everyone, even if they don’t completely agree with her, to try to give her some level of support.”

    Yup! I’m rooting for her re-election! Hope she does great!

  21. Anon-Tipper Post author

    I believe for NH, Stallcop is not going to run again for college, but I’m not exactly sure on that. But all their re-elections are this year. In NH the reps only cover around 1k to 2k people IIRC so they could win because everyone reasonably knows them in their district, but it could also make the race really tight, so we’ll see.

    Here’s their websites:
    https://calebqdyer.com/
    https://www.phinneynh.com/
    https://ballotpedia.org/Joseph_Stallcop (I can’t find a campaign website for him)

  22. Anon-Tipper Post author

    Rob,

    Thanks for posting the follow up! That’s great! I’m going to edit the original article here to include this!

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