FTC discusses its competition enforcement and advocacy work in recent testimony

By Mark Iandolo | Feb 7, 2016

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – The Federal Trade Commission explained its competition enforcement and advocacy work for state regulatory boards and licensing requirements for occupations, trades and professions in testimony presented to a subcommittee from the U.S. Senate.

FTC Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen went before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights and testified on behalf of the FTC. She stated that while occupational licensing can protect consumers from health and safety risks, unwarranted restrictions might harm competition. This would leave consumers with higher-priced, lower-quality and less convenient services, the FTC states.

“From a competition standpoint, occupational regulation can be especially worrisome when regulatory authority is delegated to a board composed of members of the occupation it regulates,” Commissioner Ohlhausen said.

The testimony notes that it is possible a board like this may make decisions that serve the private economic interests of its members and not the policies of the state. These decisions might result in occupational restrictions that discourage new entrants, deter competition and suppress truthful, non-deceptive advertising that would challenge the status quo, according to the FTC.

The Commission has worked to help define the contours of state action doctrine for actions taken by state boards composed of private actors.

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