There are valid reasons why those in some professions should be licensed by the state – mostly because if they are incompetent, people could be seriously injured or die.

Not that licensing is a perfect safeguard.

Surely, there are folks who practice medicine, or engineer construction projects, or install electric wiring, or repair teeth who shouldn’t. And members of professions sometimes misuse regulation to ward off competitors.

However, one assumes that the process of monitoring competence of licensees works most of the time. But when it comes to other activities not involved in life-and-death matters, state licensing is less certain.

Lawyers? Probably yes. Real estate agents? Perhaps. Barbers and beauticians? One wonders why.

We’ve already seen legislation that would require dog groomers to be licensed by the state. Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, cites just one case of one dog that was injured by a groomer – scarcely an epidemic of abuse requiring an expensive new bureaucracy.

It’s part of a steady stream of efforts to bring marginal professions and trades under state licensing – mostly sponsored by those in the fields themselves.

Why? Professional licensing increases status, which may translate into higher incomes. It can also be a way of limiting competition, which also is a way of boosting incomes. And by creating a new state-licensed profession, politicians create a new lobby they can tap for campaign money.

A case in point is Assembly Bill 2482 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco.

AB 2482 would create an entirely new licensing mechanism for interior decorators – or interior designers, as they like to call themselves – and is the latest incarnation of a years-long, nationwide drive by some in the field to elevate themselves into state-licensed professionals.

Four years ago, Ma’s colleague from San Francisco, Sen. Leland Yee, carried a very similar measure, sponsored by the American Association

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