Does another occupation really need to be regulated? HB 1854 would expand the scope of government by requiring roofers to register with the state or else they commit a Class C misdemeanor.

Under this legislation, which is pending before the House State Affairs Committee, roofers would be burdened with additional costs. First, they would have to pay a registration fee to be determined by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Second, they would be required to purchase a $250,000 insurance policy.

The bill could also limit competition. Roofers must state in their application their number of years of experience in roofing; this could limit the ability of new competitors to enter the field if registration is going to be denied on the basis of inexperience.

Licensing new occupations is proven to reduce employment and increase costs. A University of Minnesota study of occupational licensing found that “occupational licensing reduces employment growth in states that are licensed relative to those that are not regulated.” It found states that licensed dieticians and nutritionists and librarians experienced 20 percent lower employment growth. University of Texas at Austin Economics Professor Dan Hammermesh estimated that the deadweight loss to society from occupational licensing is between $34.8 billion and $41.7 billion per year.

The bill would also limit competition by excluding any person with a felony conviction. Someone with a drug possession conviction could be an excellent roofer. The bill makes any felony grounds for revocation – no matter how old the conviction is.

The bill won’t guarantee quality roofing. A bad roofer could still successfully register. There is no attempt made in the legislation, and it would be impractical for the government, to assess the quality of each roofer’s work. Therefore, consumers are better off using word of mouth or a review service to pick a roofing contractor. If Texas has a problem with bad roofers, this bill won’t solve it.

– Marc Levin