The Wall Street Journal reports on a victory against a case of occupational licensing that appears to be pure protectionism:

Travis County District Court Judge Orlinda Naranjo ruled that the state board was out of bounds in early 2007 when it began ordering more than two dozen nonlicensed equine dentists to quit working. The board failed to conduct studies or seek public input before abruptly deciding that only veterinarians could float teeth. Judge Naranjo decided the disregard for due process by the board invalidated the new policy….

Horse-teeth floating is a lucrative job. Some practitioners say they can make $300,000 a year, and those who do it say it’s straightforward and requires no special training. But some veterinarians fear that unskilled floaters will damage the horse’s gums or strip away protective enamel.

The case came as a result of the Institute for Justice, the non-profit libertarian organization who does this sort of thing. Fear not horse-teeth floating veterinarians, protectionism is on the way:

Texas, however, likely will continue to press the issue, meaning the victory could be fleeting. Dewey E. Helmcamp III, executive director of the veterinary medical examiners board, said he feared the ruling puts horses in danger and expected both the veterinary board and the state legislature to take up the issue soon.

“It is safe to say that we will move by rule adoption to restrict in some fashion the unfettered practice of teeth floating by lay persons unless a veterinarian is involved with some form of supervision,” Mr. Helmcamp said.

Pushing for “supervision” seems to be a trend in occupational licensing when a restrictive rule that insiders fight for becomes accepted as unnecessary. If they can’t force you to pay them to perform the service, then they can at least force you to pay them to supervise. Dental hygienists become tethered to the supervision of dentists, nurse practitioners are required supervision by doctors, etc. Sometimes the regulation requires is as little doctors being available by phone, as in the case with retail clinics in some states, which by clearly diminishing the probability that they are making anyone safer makes the pure rent seeking nature of the law even more obvious.


hat tip from David Wessel via twitter @davidmwessel