South Dakota patriots seeking to express their displeasure with the current incompetent White House can bend the ear of a Cabinet member in Sioux Falls Thursday. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta—who has spent far more of his life lawyering than laboring—is coming to Sioux Falls Thursday, August 3, for the Western Governors’ Association Workforce Development Initiative. Governor Dennis Daugaard is hosting this event at the Sioux Falls downtown Holiday Inn. Secretary Acosta is scheduled to speak at lunch at 12:15 p.m.; WGA will livestream Acosta’s remarks and all of the other proceedings on YouTube.
So far, Secretary Acosta’s big ideas for workforce development lean toward making life harder for the workforce: so far, Secretary Acosta has reversed pro-labor transparency and liability rules and advocated rolling back Obama-era overtime protections (though not completely). Since his confirmation in April, Secretary Acosta has met more frequently with industry associations than with labor leaders and more frequently with Republican lawmakers and Trump staffers than with Democratic lawmakers.
Secretary Acosta’s boss has also proposed cutting the Department of Labor’s budget by 19.8% and job training programs by 40%. Perhaps attendees at the workforce meeting can ask how we develop workforce by making less effort to train workforce.
Secretary Acosta may be seeking to help workers by telling states to quit making workers get licenses:
“Occupational licensing hinders the American workforce,” he told the crowd gathered before the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Almost one in three jobs requires an occupational license.”
…A Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis study estimates that licensing requirements are keeping 2 million people out of jobs, a number equivalent to 1.3 percent of the labor force, Acosta said. He also cited another study from Brookings that puts lost employment opportunities at closer to 3 million.
Even when occupational regulation makes sense, state and local governments could do more to standardize and simplify requirements so licenses will work across multiple state lines without re-certification, Acosta argued [Aldo Svaldi, “Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Speaking in Denver, Argues for Reduced Job Licensing Requirements,” Denver Post, 2017.07.21].
President Barack Obama struck a similar note against excessive work licensing as a barrier to military families’ income and a drag on economic growth. After the Obama Administration issued a report and recommendations on occupational licensing in July 2015, eleven states took up licensure reform proposals.
South Dakota requires numerous professions and occupations to obtain licenses to participate in the free market. See—South Dakota may not tax your income, but it makes you pay a fee before you can even start earning income.
So maybe it won’t just be us cranky liberals protesting Secretary Acosta’s appearance in Sioux Falls Thursday. Maybe Governor Daugaard will share some grumbles about this Trump Administration push to reduce local control and reduce South Dakota’s revenue stream this time from plumbers and barbers.