At least eight special interest lobbyists have registered on the issue of licensing reform after two Democratic lawmakers sent a letter in late June urging unnamed lobbyists to engage on the issue. Media Trackers first reported on the letter in early July. Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty revealed the eight lobbyists in a release Thursday. The WILL release says it has made an open records request to Representative Jonathan Brostoff’s office seeking the recipients of the letter, but so far his office has not fulfilled the request. WILL has issued recent reports showing how onerous licensing regulations can be barrier to market entry in various professions and hurts the state’s economy.
Brostoff and State Senator LaTonya Johnson, in the letter, refer to a bill that would create a licensing review council to review and recommend reforms to professional licensing in Wisconsin. Representative Andre’ Jacque responded to the letter at Media Trackers’ request in early July:
It makes sense for Wisconsin to evaluate its existing licensing regulations to ensure they appropriately address public safety and consumer protection, as well as not unnecessarily burdening consumer choice or the practice of qualified individuals. There has been significant bi-partisan support for regulatory licensing reform, though my colleagues’ attack on WILL and AFP has a predictably partisan flavor to it.
I respect both of my colleagues who sent the letter. Unfortunately, the letter’s hyperbole seeks to cast aspersions on the work done by many to ensure that those capable of doing professional quality work within their field, including many in Rep. Brostoff’s and Sen. Johnson’s districts, are not unduly hampered by state government in their efforts to do so. This could cause needlessly negative and politically charged legislative conversations, when the focus of legislators should be on talking with and getting to know people in their districts within professions being discussed by their committees.
While lobbyists play a role in providing information within the political process, I would much rather have citizens and members of a regulated profession provide direction to legislators or industry lobbyists than see legislators trying to scare, alarm or manipulate lobbyists into panicking their groups’ members and the general public (which is fairly evident when legislators are telling lobbyists what they think they should do). It’s written very much like an over-the-top fundraising email/direct mail letter- which would be illegal to send to lobbyists right now under Wisconsin law- without the ask for contributions.