Licensing review prompts bill to eliminate locksmith registration

Licensing review prompts bill to eliminate locksmith registration

Lincoln-area state Sen. Matt Hansen has introduced a remarkable bill, and it’s only one sentence long (which we don’t see enough). LB169 starts with the words:

“The following sections are outright repealed…”

The sections of statute that would be repealed refer to the registration, or occupational licensing, of locksmiths. Locksmiths were among the occupations reviewed as part of Nebraska’s Occupational Board Reform Act in 2020. The law, which the Platte Institute championed under LB299 in 2018, requires a legislative review of the licensing laws on the books, to help identify where the law might not make sense.

The review found that there were many problems with the licensure and certification process for locksmiths, including:

  • Certifications are supposed to be issued by county clerks. Survey results in the review found many clerks had never issued a certificate, didn’t know what the certificate should look like (there is no “state certificate”), and didn’t know what standards should be used.
  • The county clerks surveyed said that they knew there were people acting as locksmiths in the county, but they had no idea if they were registered.
  • Some county clerks said that the statutory registration fee for a locksmith ($5) was inadequate for the criminal background checks which they believed they would be obligated to do to provide certification.
  • It was also unclear whether registering as a locksmith in one county was transferrable to other counties, and if registered locksmiths had to carry their certificate with them.

Though Nebraska’s $5 locksmith registration is already the least burdensome for practitioners among states with such a requirement, the Institute for Justice notes that most states don’t require licensing for locksmiths at all, including all the states neighboring Nebraska.

Sen. Matt Hansen—who chaired the Business and Labor Committee which did the review last year—has introduced a bill that does exactly what LB299 envisioned: doing away with licensing that seems unnecessary, isn’t really protecting public safety, or that needs to be modified to changing circumstances. The uncertainty expressed by the officials responsible for carrying out locksmith registration on behalf of the state certainly makes it an excellent target for repeal.

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