Regulation was also a key topic of discussion for Drew Klein, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Iowa. Klein visited a Pizza & Policy meeting on Thursday hosted by Sioux County Conservatives.
“Conservatives are really good talking about how bad regulation is, but they never name what we’re talking about,” Klein said. “What regulations do we want to do away with? We have to put a face and name on regulation.”
Iowa’s occupational licensing requirements creates one of the highest burdens.
“It literally is having to go to the state to get a permission slip to do a job,” Klein said. “We probably all know somebody who has an occupational license. It’s really an ingrained, paternalistic view that if I had to get one or my wife had to get one then whoever the next person in line is should have to get one as well.”
The idea behind occupational licensing is preserving public safety. But Klein said there’s no threat to public safety by a cosmetologist.
“Outside of a bad haircut, what’s the real risk to the public,” he asked. “I’ve been cutting my own hair now for 10-plus years and there’s not any impact to the public safety to my knowledge. Most of these have no real concern for public safety.”
Other solutions exist, he said.
“The reality is all kind of private trade associations will certify or recognize someone who is capable of doing what they’re holding themselves out to be able to do,” Klein said. “There are insurance requirements. There are all of these other market-driven accountability mechanisms.”
Another idea is just having business owners let customers know if they’re not licensed through the state. That would allow the consumer to make a decision.
Technology has also helped solve this issue.
“You don’t go check the Iowa Department of Health before you come in and eat somebody’s pizza,” he said. “You go to Google and look at what other customers have said about the business. Then you decide whether or not you also want to do business with them.”
Finally, if someone is licensed in one state, Klein said they should be licensed in another through reciprocity.
“If you were legal in South Dakota, you should be legal in Iowa,” he said. “If you didn’t pose any great public threat in your previous state, then when you move here you should still be allowed to work.”
In Davenport a church purchased a building to serve breakfast to the poor. It had been serving out of the church, but the church purchased a building that was located closer to those it intended to serve.
“The government came in and shut them down because the building was zoned incorrectly and they were not allowed to feed poor people,” Klein said. “I’m not generally a ‘government is evil’ kind of person. It’s an institution that has a role. But when you see things like that, no, government is just evil.”
In addition to that situation, AFP-Iowa has gotten involved in local tax fights and debt issues.
“Coralville has a per capita municipal debt of about $20,000 for every man, woman and child,” Klein said. “They’ve TIF’d almost every square foot of their city.”