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Sign Language Interpreter Licenses and Wisconsin's Other Costly, Pointless Permission Slips

Wisconsin Republicans pledge to reform occupational licensing, which hits residents of the state with nearly $2 billion annually in hidden costs.

DIABILITYIMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/NewscomDIABILITYIMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/NewscomIf you want to help a deaf person communicate in Wisconsin, you'll have to get permission from the state government first.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states to require a license for sign language interpreters, and the state also issues licenses for interior designers, bartenders, and dieticians despite no clear evidence that any of those professions constitute a risk to public health in other states without similar licensing rules. Republican lawmakers in Madison say they are set to take a critical look at seemingly pointless government permission slips like those.

"Excessive and unnecessary occupational licensing and regulations can discourage individuals from entering the workforce and attaining financial independence," said a coalition of Wisconsin Republicans in a statement this week announcing their 2017 legislative priorities. The lawmakers said they would review all licensing requirements and pare back those that exceed what other states require while also seeking "to eliminate licenses in Wisconsin that do not provide legitimate public safety benefits."

It's hard to imagine any health and safety benefits to mandatory licensing for sign language interpreters, which is one of eight licenses highlighted in a new report from Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, a conservative group. The report suggests lawmakers concentrate on repealing or rewriting requirements for eight occupational licenses currently on the books in Wisconsin despite not having any public health or safety benefits: auctioneer, bartender, dietitian, landscape architect, private detective, private security person, sign language interpreter and interior designer.

Wisconsin lawmakers have been adding new licenses to the books for years. Since 1996, the number of licensed professions in the Badger State has grown from 90 to 166—an increase of 84 percent, according to the report. Licensing cost Wisconsin more than 30,000 jobs over the last 20 years and adds an additional $1.9 billion annually in consumer costs.

Though they are usually defended as being in the interest of public health, licensing laws serve as barriers to entry in many professions, protecting incumbent businesses by making it more difficult for competitors to enter the marketplace. In some cases, they are even crafted and enforced by the very businesses they are protecting—with limited evidence of actually protecting health or safety.

Worse, licensing schemes can hurt people who are trying to start or run their own business. The cost—in time and money—required to obtain a license can be daunting and may stop some people from even trying to be entrepreneurs. Others can face stiff fines and penalties if they fail to obtain or renew a license, even if they aren't otherwise jeopardizing their customers or the general public.

"We went through a number of complaints on the Department of Safety and Professional Services website," Collin Roth, a co-author of the report, told Wisconsin Watchdog. "You can find them busting barbers who don't have a license. You can find them busting aestheticians, people who do makeup, for not having a license."

There's already a broad bipartisan consensus that onerous occupational licensing laws are bad for the economy. Conservative and free market groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation (which publishes this blog) have been taking for years about the need to reform licensing laws. They're joined by left-of-center groups like the Brookings Institution and the ACLU. Even the Obama White House last year published a report detailing how licensing limits individual opportunity and economic growth.

Reforming licensure could be an opportunity for bipartisan agreement in Madison—and in other states.

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  • Rich||

    hard to imagine any health and safety benefits to mandatory licensing for sign language interpreters

    *** rising intonation ***

    What about AIDS advisors for the deaf?

  • ||

    BUT HOW WILL YOU KNOW THAT THEY CAN SIGN PROPERLY???

    I BET YOU DIDN'T THINK OF THAT DID YOU THEY COULD JUST BE WAIVING THEIR HANDS AND SAYING GIBBERISH!!!

  • AlmightyJB||

    What if they stutter or have turretts?

  • ||

    Would having a palsy be the equivalent of stuttering in sign language?

  • Ted S.||

    People with turrets. Sounds interesting.

  • Swiss Servator||

    +1 .50 cal quad mount

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What if their fingernails are unkempt? Who wants to listen to ugly cuticles all day?

  • Robert||

    Yeah! Because they didn't patronize a licensed manicurist!

  • Ted S.||

    +1 Nelson Mandela funeral.

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

    I was gonna say. Bet that guy wasn't licenced by State of Wisconsin!

  • ||

    Really? What the shit are you guys talking about? I was just making up something stupid to put in all caps to make it FUNNY.

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

    How did you miss that? It was a glorious bit of absurdity in the sea of overserious pomposity and absolute assholery.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Who doesn't want to get closer to Helle?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Looks like it paid off

  • AlmightyJB||

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    *DEEP BREATH*

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • ||

    That is seriously the funniest thing I've seen this month. I have no idea how I didn't see anything about that until now.

  • ||

    I don't get it.

    Where there tongue action?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Hasn't this happened before... where somewhere here in the US a pol was giving a speech and it turned out the sign language interpreter was just making shit up.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You might be thinking of the time that fake sign language interpreter in South Africa translated Obama's speech at Mandela's funeral.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....reter.html

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    That was awesome.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's something I'm sorry we missed.

    If Nelson Mandela had been able to hold on for just a few more years, we could have watched Donald Trump speak to a crowd of thousands at Nelson Mandela's funeral.

    Hell, I'd have coughed up for pay per view to watch that.

  • Real and Legitimate News, Jr.||

    "Mandela, he was fantastic. Just a terrific guy, we went way back. He stayed at Trump Tower as my guest, he said the service was un. Be. Lievable. Just a tremendous person, really."

  • Ken Shultz||

    Can you imagine the crowd response?

  • Lurk Diggler||

    Why did Mendela and Trump not get along?

  • Ken Shultz||

  • Agammamon||

  • Libertymike||

    Part of the attack on occupational licensing schemes must include direct targeting of law and medicine.

  • Robert||

    No, because we need the lawyers & doctors on our side to declare the other licenses illegal & unnecessary for health.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What if they were secretly signing Mein Kampf? What if they were signing The Art of the Deal???

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

    Chop the hand off, of course!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The hand in The Art of the Deal is invisible.

  • 0x90||

    "The Infinitesimal Hand"

  • Lurk Diggler||

    I find that many regulations are enacted based on purely hypothetical scenario's that predict the status quo will lead to a dystopia.

    I here today that some states allow people to refuse to rent to people who are gay. Of course that's true for people with brown eyes, or people dress strange or a plethora of reasons. Yet it doesn't happen, but the idea that it could if one was to cook up a hypothetical is apparently convincing to many people.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    No joke, currently living in Wisconsin and my fiance just decided to switch majors from trying to be a sign interpreter. Probably dodged a regulatory bullet there.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Is that a major?

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    "License Method 2 Requirements:

    Any valid certification granted by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. or its successor. (Complete Form #2926)
    Satisfactory evidence of a diagnosis by a physician that the applicant is deaf or hard of hearing."

    Wouldn't being deaf make it PRETTY HARD to be an interpreter??

  • Rhywun||

    Hearing people signing is cultural appropriation.

  • Invisible Finger||

    In Wisconsin I need a license to become visible.

  • Lurk Diggler||

    somewhat related- I am doing business ethics. It is thus far the most left wing course I have taken. The text appears to be written on the premise that economics does not exist.

    The course essentially assumes "sustainability" and corporate responsibility to society are settled science and the discussion is really just about how to train force businesses to act morally (as if morality is an objective standard we all agree on).

    Trying to get along but urge to kill rising.

  • ||

    Business Ethics? Someone link to a youtube clip of the end of Billy Madison. I can't b/c I'm at work.

  • ||

    Business Ethics? Someone link to a youtube clip of the end of Billy Madison. I can't b/c I'm at work.

  • Ted S.||

    The job of an ethicist is to come up with rationalizations for things normal humans find morally reprehensible.

  • Lurk Diggler||

    Yes they like bringing up what they call the iron law saying "those in power who do not act responsibly will lose their power."

    While probably true isn't some claim about morality and I doubt was meant to be a call to arms.

    T way they use it is "Do what we say or we'll hit you."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Without those permission slips as you so glibly call them, the sign language service industry would become a race to the bottom.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Sign Language Interpreter Licenses and Wisconsin's Other Costly, Pointless Permission Slips
    Wisconsin Republicans pledge to reform occupational licensing, which hits residents of the state with nearly $2 billion annually in hidden costs.

    Well of course interpreter licenses should be issued.
    Just because people have been doing this all their lives doesn't mean they know what they're doing.

  • Don'tTreadOnMeChipper||

    How do you sign, "fuck off" I wonder? Wish I had a sign language interpreter license so I would know.

  • 0x90||

    Already lots of unlicensed practitioners of that sign.

  • The Hyperbole||

    Just because people have been doing this all their lives doesn't mean they know what they're doing

    Very true. however not knowing what one's doing is not a good reason for the state to stop one from giving it the old college try.

  • Cre||

    Someone "giving it the old college try" could be life or Death even the emergency room.

  • Nunya||

    Isn't it a Title IX violation for the old college try?

  • ||

    Wisconsin is home to lotsa cheese and the American progressive movement. None of this is surprising.

    Licensing and permits are a bureaucratic scam. They figured out an 'up sale' scheme.

  • straffinrun||

    At least Mondale lost it. #WisconsinPride

  • Ted S.||

    So did Hillary Clinton.

  • Rhywun||

    Hey, you leave cheese alone.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Seconded.

  • You ARE a Prog (MJG)||

    DIABILITYIMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Newscom

    Well that's lousy alt-text. Study Shahkmore, Eric.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Shape up or my friend with the bird break hands is going to peck out your eyeballs.

  • AlmightyJB||

    To perform the Vulcan nerve pinch, you first make your hand like this.

  • Derpetologist||

    Amusing Trump cameo on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    "Everyone's always blaming me for everything."

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

    Such racism!

  • Derpetologist||

    You know he's racist because he has to hang out with black celebrities to disguise his racism.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEPs17_AkTI

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

    Jesus, it's like second coming of Jefferson Davies.

    Actually, scratch that. At least Davies was a Democrat!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Funny how he was talking about the exact same things back then.

  • Lee Genes||

    Except it was the fear of the Rising Sun....

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's interesting he has such a focus there being in real estate and construction.

  • Lee Genes||

    Doesn't like the competition I guess.

  • John Titor||

    It was the 80s, everyone was having Japan freakouts.

    See Diehard, Michael Crichton, Neuromancer, any futuristic 80s anime where Japan was always a superpower, etc.

  • Ted S.||

    You forgot the Vapors.

  • Rhywun||

    +1 Dong

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Trump? Ha! Obama was on "Family Matters" every week!

  • straffinrun||

    Tough love.

    The tragic truth is that America's millennials are a bunch of phone-addicted, selfie-obsessed, hashtagging, snapchatting, kale-munching, twerking, lazy, whining, ill-informed, politically correct, cossetted narcissists who find absolutely everything mortally offensive and believe there are 165 ways to sexually identify.
  • John Titor||

    Good for you, Piers Morgan. For once you directed your vapid obnoxiousness at someone actually dumber than you are.

    (I still think you should be in prison for the phone hacking thing you cunt.)

  • Animal||

    "Good for you, Piers Morgan. For once you directed your vapid obnoxiousness at someone actually dumber than you are."

    Which really, really, really, really, really, really limits his audience.

  • Derpetologist||

    Something that ought to be mentioned in discussions of this kind: their parents and teachers are the ones who tolerated and encourage their dysfunctional behavior. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

  • 0x90||

    Too bad nobody thought to warn anybody about stuff like this (infantilization of the population) for the past 30 years. And too bad Piers doesn't seem to realize that his trademark nanny-statism goes hand in hand with the same. Good piece by almost anyone else, but here, it also shows that he's apparently even more clueless than I'd previously thought.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Luxury survivalist community planned for out in the sticks in Ohio.

    http://nbc4i.com/2016/11/18/lu.....on-county/

  • Lee Genes||

    400 condos? After a disaster, it's the people that surround me that cause the most worry.

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's cute that the townie thinks she'll have someplace to go if something happens.

  • 0x90||

    Trolls, hopefully.

  • John Titor||

  • ||

    Progtards in Dogdick. In fact, I'm writing Trump right now to ask him to let the Muslims and illegals go and focus on the Dogdick progs.

  • SIV||

  • Sevo||

    "Trump may be setting a record for broken promises"
    [...]
    "President Barack Obama kept most of his campaign pledges,"
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/pol.....623216.php

    A real laugh riot, right there.

  • Ted S.||

    If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

  • Sevo||

    'Most transparent...'
    'Put bills on the internet...'

    Aw, hell, why should I do it?
    "Promise Broken rulings on The Obameter"
    http://www.politifact.com/trut.....se-broken/
    20 on page 1, seven pages...

  • Stickler in the Comments(PanZ)||

    My favorite: No signing statements to nullify instructions from Congress

    Skimming, do not see "keeping your doctor" listed, though "average family will save $2500" was.

  • Sevo||

    "do not see "keeping your doctor" "

    I didn't check, but it's interesting if that isn't there; one of the fact-check sites awarded that happy horseshit as "Lie of The Year"!

  • Ted S.||

    Well, he didn't have anybody licensed in Wisconsin who could make those statements, did he?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Hark! Reason found a license it doesn't like, for now!

  • Jerryskids||

    Excessive and unnecessary occupational licensing and regulations

    You know, if you're talking about cutting out excessive and unnecessary it seems to me you're off to a bad start unless you can give me some examples of excessive but necessary. Isn't excessive by definition unnecessary? Aren't you in fact using some excessive (and therefore, unnecessary) verbiage there when you could more economically just have said either "excessive occupational licensing and regulations" or "unnecessary etc."?

    Or perhaps I should be grateful he didn't refer to examining the question of whether or not we have "too much" excessive and unnecesssary.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    How about the pot legalization discussions? They are all for those licenses being necessary for liberty. If the excessive item comes up at all, it is tossed out overton's window.

    Reason scribes argue the excessive but necessary all the time in the marriage licensing sermons. When anybody brings up excessive in those cases, they dodge with "overton window" and then go back to arguing why certain relationships really need government permission, for 'liberty.'

    Reason began much too late for the driver's license discussions. That is now excessive but necessary settled science.

  • Agammamon||

    Republican lawmakers in Madison say they are set to take a critical look at seemingly pointless government permission slips like those.

    State election season coming up? Because it seems the only time lawmakers look at the seeminglyobviously pointless government permission slips they created is when they need to drum up some campaign contributions.

  • Cre||

    Licensing for sign language interpreters should be mandatory.

    There is SO much to what they do. You wouldn't want a doctor without a license or a lawyer without a license. For Deaf people, interpreters are the access to the hearing world. They should be highly trained and licensed to do so. Just like social workers, doctors, lawyers, etc.

    To say differently is VERY dangerous.

  • Nunya||

    "Excessive and unnecessary occupational licensing and regulations can discourage individuals from entering the workforce and attaining financial independence"

    Isn't that their point to begin with? Why create the regulation otherwise? I guess they could say they wanted to just tax a few folks, but if that were the case there wouldn't actually be regulations designed to exclude some. If it was about protecting the deaf, for example, isn't it more likely to cause harm to the deaf as the cost of an interpreter increases and become more expensive. Someone somewhere most likely had malicious intent to block some from acting as an interpreter.

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