Many of us are closely following the actions of state government right now, and an important thing to monitor is the state of business rules and regulations. Lawmakers are loosening rules and regulations to ease the burden on businesses, workers, and consumers in this unprecedented time. Relaxing regulations is great, but it raises an important question: If these regulations aren’t necessary now, were they ever necessary?
The Missouri Division of Professional Registration has provided a list of statutes and regulations that it is requesting to be waived due to the COVID-19 crisis. This twelve-page document contains requests from 17 different professional registration boards. The requests are all related to occupational licensing and require the governor’s approval.
Many requests have already been approved. Several licensed occupations, including optometrists and nursing home administrators, are now able to meet their license renewal requirements online, which was not allowed or limited before. Missouri pharmacies are now allowed to use pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that have out-of-state licenses and can seek assistance from out-of-state pharmacies. There has also been a huge reduction in restrictions on health care professionals, making it easier for them to practice and coordinate with others in the field.
The Division of Professional Registration is not alone in looking to change some rules. A few lawmakers requested that the Department of Public Safety waive the restriction on selling mixed drinks to go, and in an executive order, the governor ordered the “suspension of any prohibition of the sale of un-prepared food by restaurants to the public.”
These regulations make it harder for workers to get and keep jobs. But if lifting some of these regulations is helping consumers and businesses during this crisis, we should wonder if they’re necessary when things go back to normal. One can only hope that many of these changes will stick, and we will continue to have fewer business regulations moving forward.