News: Quick Takes

Cracking down on overcriminalization of occupational licensing boards, commissioners

Bill would eliminate provisions that broadly criminalize rules violations of certain occupational licensing boards

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A bill moving through the General Assembly would eliminate provisions that broadly criminalize rules violations of certain occupational licensing boards and commissions.

The measure is another step on lawmakers’ part to crack down on overcriminalization in North Carolina law.

House Bill 68 addresses such occupations as optometry, dentistry, nursing home administrators, and hospital administrators.

Under current law, any violation of the rules of certain occupational licensing boards is a crime. According to Jon Guze, senior fellow for Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation, this fact is an example of why North Carolina has an overcriminalization problem.

“Here’s an example that shows how absurd things have become: If a North Carolina dentist runs an advertisement for dental services that fails to state whether he or she is a general practitioner or a specialist, that dentist has committed a misdemeanor and could end up with a criminal record,” Guze said. “This bill would put a stop to that kind of absurdity and take a small but significant step towards cleaning up our sprawling, incoherent, and inaccessible body of criminal law.”

H.B. 68 passed the N.C. House in a unanimous 116-0 vote on March 23. It has yet to be taken up by the Senate.