occupational license

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Should NH reduce the penalty for certain professionals operating without an occupational license?

Sep 01, 2018

BY: Citizens Count

During the last legislative session, Rep. J.R. Hoell proposed a bill to reduce the penalty for certain professionals who operate without state occupational licenses. These occupations included:

  • Barbers
  • Cosmetologists
  • Estheticians
  • Landscape architects
  • Septic system evaluators
  • Septic system designers and installers
  • Court reporters
  • Auctioneers
  • Athlete agents
  • Real estate agents
  • Itinerant vendors and peddlers

Under current New Hampshire law, those who operate without the proper occupational licensing in the above-mentioned fields are subject to criminal penalties, ranging from misdemeanor charges to felonies. HB 1818 would reduce most of these to “violation” level offenses, essentially like a speeding ticket. The bill would repeal penalties for non-licensed religious or benevolent peddlers altogether.

There have been several such bills in recent years related to occupational licenses. You can read more about them here.

HB 1818 would not impact the license requirements for electricians and plumbers in New Hampshire.

Proponents of reducing the penalties for operating certain kinds of businesses without state licenses feel that the punishment – criminal charges – outweighs the crime of cutting hair or designing landscaping without state approval. Lawmakers in favor of the bill argued that licenses make it harder for New Hampshire residents to find gainful employment.

Opponents argue that strict license requirements protect New Hampshire consumers. Reducing the penalty for operating in these professions without a state license could mean unqualified people feel emboldened to ply their trades in the Granite State. Lawmakers who opposed the bill agreed that the state could stand to loosen some licensing requirements but felt that those listed in this bill – especially septic system professionals – are too important and should not be changed.


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Representative, NH House of Representatives (2010 - 2018); Chief Mechanical Systems Engineer

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