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LICENSING

The power of administrative law goes beyond the punishment of those who fail to comply. Requiring and granting licenses to perform certain activities is a classic control device. With so many groups being licensed in one state or another, licensing as a form of social control affects a substantial portion of the labor force. Nowadays, a license may be required to engage in an occupation, to operate a business, to serve specific customers or areas, or to manufacture certain products (Tashbook, 2004). Physicians and lawyers must obtain specific training and then demonstrate some competence before they can qualify for licenses to practice. Here, licensing is used to enforce basic qualifying standards. Airplane companies just cannot fly any route they wish, and broadcasters are not free to pick a frequency at will. Underlying all regulatory licensing is a denial of a right to engage in the contemplated activity except with a license.

The control of professions and certain activities through licensing is justified as protection for the public against inferior, fraudulent, or dangerous services and products. But, under this rubric, control has been extended to occupations that, at the most, only minimally affect public health and safety. In some states, licenses are required for cosmetologists, auctioneers, weather-control practitioners, taxidermists, junkyard operators, and weather- vane installers. To be a manicurist in the state of Washington, one must take 600 hours of training and pass both a written exam and a skill demonstration, and to cut hair, one needs 1,000 hours of training and two tests. Movie projectionists need a license in Massachusetts; college math teachers in Florida; and drywall installers along with paperhangers, upholsterers, and fence erectors in California (Forbes, 2004). Hawaii licenses tattoo artists; and New Hampshire, lightning-rod salespeople.

In addition to requiring a license to practice these occupations, control is exerted through the revocation or suspension of the license. For example, under administrative law, the state may withdraw the right to practice from a lawyer, a physician, or a beautician, and it may suspend a bar or restaurant owner from doing business a few days, a year, or even permanently. A study by Roger L. Goldman and Steven Puro (2001) on the police points out that a very common approach to addressing misconduct in police departments is the revocation of the offending officer’s license or state certificate, which is obtained after the completion of a state-mandated training. They note that revocation of license is more effective than termination, which does not really prevent an officer to obtain employment in another department. Most states have adopted this little-known way of handling police misconduct.

Local, state, and federal administrative controls through licensing are widely used mechanisms of social control. Administrative laws generally specify the conditions under which a license is required, the requirements that must be met by applicants, the duties imposed upon the licensees, the agency authorized to issue such licenses, the procedures in revoking licenses and the grounds that constitute cause for revocation, and the penalties for violations.

 
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