State licenses too many low-wage jobs

Jameson Taylor, Guest columnist Published 12:53 p.m. CT March 17, 2017 | Updated 1:37 p.m. CT March 17, 2017

Talk to anyone in state government and they’ll confirm that Mississippi is in a high-stakes competition to attract jobs and talent. A strength of our federal system of government is that it encourages states to compete with — and learn from — each other. We can’t stop innovating and improving or we will fall behind. One of the lessons of the last few years is that labor freedom matters. For many decades, Mississippi has encouraged labor freedom by supporting the right to work.

We have lost that edge. Today, we are one of the most regulated states in terms of labor. This is not because of unions but because so many occupations in Mississippi require a person to be licensed before they can work. Obtaining such a license can be a time-consuming, complicated, expensive process.

Often when people use the phrase “right to work,” they mean that employees cannot be forced to join or pay for a union. Mississippi guaranteed the “right to work” in 1954, becoming the 15th state to do so. Today, there are 28 right-to-work states. Right to work is a great policy for recruiting companies to Mississippi. But as more states reject forced unionization, we need a new tool to stand out from the pack. We need a new tool to revitalize homegrown entrepreneurship and prosperity.

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