House Bill 117, sponsored by Rep. John Faulkner, would make it easier for a water well contractor to get a license.

HB 117 would remove the requirement that an applicant must present three affidavits to the Mississippi Department of Environment Quality’s examining committee to receive a license, in addition to being at least age 21, reasonable knowledge of the DEQ rules and regulations on wells, and have three years’ experience.

Securing an affidavit, much less three, requires the costly services of an attorney, which can be a substantial barrier to entry for someone wanting to enter the well drilling profession. Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana do not have the affidavit requirement.

Though just one license, this is a good step toward making it easier to earn a living in Mississippi.

Today, about 19 percent of Mississippians are in an occupation that requires a license. And this is particularly troubling in low and middle-income occupations. Mississippi currently licenses 66 of 102 lower-income occupations, as identified by Institute for Justice. 

On average, licensing for low and middle-income occupations in Mississippi requires an individual to complete 160 days of training, to pass two exams, and to pay $330 in fees. Those numbers will vary depending on the industry. For example, a shampooer must receive 1,500 clock hours of education. A fire alarm installer must pay over $1,000 in fees. 

The net result is a decrease in the number of people who can work. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that occupational licensing reduces labor supply by 17 to 27 percent.

In Mississippi, the Institute for Justice estimates that licensing has cost the state 13,000 jobs. That represents two Nissan plants that could be created by reducing our licensing burden, and it wouldn’t require a dime in taxpayer incentives. 

MCPP has reviewed this legislation and finds that it is aligned with our principles and therefore should be supported. 

Read HB 117.

Track the status of this bill and all bills in our legislative tracker