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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 12, 2021.
Freedom to Work Act
This bill requires federal agencies to review and reduce occupational licensing requirements.
Specifically, each executive agency must review relevant laws, policies, and regulations that institute occupational licensing requirements for agency positions, or that cause a state, local, or tribal government to adopt licensing requirements for positions within their jurisdictions, and identify possible changes to eliminate such requirements or to provide alternatives that are the least restrictive while also maintaining consumer protection. Agencies must implement changes to the extent permissible under law.
The bill also requires states to describe their plans to reduce occupational licensing barriers as part of their unified state plans for programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
Several executive orders have required similar review of occupational licensing requirements. For example, the executive order titled Increasing Economic and Geographic Mobility, which was issued on December 14, 2020, outlined certain principles for occupational licensing requirements, including that such requirements should be the least restrictive to competition while also maintaining consumer protection; the order directed executive agencies to review and identify changes to their regulations, guidance, and policies in accordance with these principles. Additionally, the executive order titled Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which was issued on July 9, 2021, directs the Federal Trade Commission to consider addressing practices that inhibit competition, including unfair occupational licensing restrictions, through regulations.