The Occupational Licensing Board Antitrust Damages Relief and Reform Act (HR 6515) was introduced on July 25 by Congressman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX-11), then co-sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX-21), and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Education and the Work Force. The legislation is to limit private antitrust damages against occupational licensing boards and to promote beneficial reforms of state occupational licensing. It was developed to address the implications for licensing boards of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission case.

The bill would shield State Boards, Board members and their staff members from damage awards stemming from private antitrust litigation. It would allow both government enforcers and private plaintiffs to continue to sue for injunctive relief; however, for a board to obtain such relief certain criteria would have to be met: (1) For previously unregulated occupational licenses, the board must have a “sunrise review” mechanism in place; (2) For existing boards, a periodic “sunset review” is required unless the occupation is licensed in at least 40 states; (3) All board members must be selected by an officer of the state, and the board must include public representation. The legislation also calls for a study by the Government Accountability Office of licensing reform, how states conduct cost/benefit analyses through sunrise and sunset reviews, how the states can implement greater portability and how licensing impacts low-income workers, immigrants with work authorizations and those with criminal records.

Congressman Conaway (NASBA Chair 2002-2003 and a former Presiding Officer of the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy) explained: “Individuals who serve on these boards should enjoy the same legal protections for working on behalf of the state as all other state officials do.”

For more information see the August edition of Legislative E-News on

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