In a blow to personal liberty, a group of PA House members led by representative Eddie Day Pashinski of Wilkes-Barre sponsored House Bill 1438 which makes it illegal to practice “Music Therapy” without a license. Without citing any evidence of a problem, the authors of the bill claim the licensing will protect the public from “unprofessional, improper, unauthorized and unqualified” music therapists. This is not The Onion folks. This is government run amok.
In addition to dictating educational and training requirements, the bill imposes other disturbing restrictions.
- An unelected board will have complete authority decide who can and cannot practice music therapy.
- The board may approve an applicant only if he or she “is of good moral character.” This looks like an opportunity for arbitrary discrimination by the board.
- The applicant must not have been convicted of a drug related felony in the last 10 years.
Many recovered addicts have a drug conviction on their record. Should they not be allowed to play music for sick people?
Occupational Licensing Is a Racket
The negative effects of occupational licensing are well known, but lawmakers can’t seem to get enough of them. Like other licensing laws, this bill protects entrenched interests from new competition, drives up health care prices for everyone and makes it harder for new people to start working in the field.
The problem is not that there are certifying organizations. Voluntary certifications are an excellent way for one to show they are qualified to perform a job. If one wishes to be certified by the American Music Therapy Association and work in PA, he or she is free to do so today. It may even be helpful for one’s music therapy career to become certified by the AMTA. The problem occurs certifying organizations like the AMTA and the government collude. HB1438 requires music therapists to be certified by the AMTA, granting the organization a monopoly and guaranteed market for certifying music therapists in the Commonwealth. This sounds like a great deal for the AMTA. Could it be that the politicians promoting this bill are more interested in finding donors for their next campaign rather than serving the public?
Everyone should have a right to make a living however they choose as long as they are not committing fraud. In a free society, individual employers and employees determine job qualifications voluntarily – not through the force of government.
Call to Action
Please join me in promoting individual liberty by opposing this bill. Here is a Facebook video from Representative Pashinski promoting the bill. Please let Representative Pashinski know how you feel by commenting on it.