Will AG Jeff Landry’s creative plan to help shield occupational licensing board members from personal liability be put to the test by the Pelican Institute in its push to assist Veterinarians Lara Stooksbury, Courtney Breen obtain Louisiana licenses?

Louisiana Attorney General (and 2023 candidate for Governor) Jeff Landry.

Editor’s Note:  The views and opinions expressed concerning Jeff Landry are those of Sound Off Louisiana and do not reflect the viewpoints of the Pelican Institute, which is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization.

Without a single “no” vote in the entire Louisiana Legislature, in the 2022 Regular Session, Louisiana State Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman (D-New Orleans), passed what is commonly referred to as Louisiana’s Right to Earn a Living Act.

It constituted Act 583 of the 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session, and here’s essentially what it provides:

In accordance with Act 583 of 2022:

Any interested person may request review of an occupational regulation by submitting a petition to the occupational licensing board that issued the regulation. An occupational licensing board shall review a regulation provided for in the petition for full compliance with the least restrictive regulation as set forth in R.S. 37:43 or R.S. 49:260, as applicable.

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 49:953(C)(3).

Specifically, the Legislature has identified an “occupational license” as the “most restrictive” form of regulation:

(5) “Least restrictive regulation” means, from least to most restrictive, all of the following:
(a) Market competition.
(b) Third-party or consumer-created ratings and reviews.
(c) Specific private civil cause of action to remedy consumer harm as provided in the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, R.S. 51:1401 et seq.
(d) Regulation of the process of providing the specific goods or services to consumers.
(e) Inspection.
(f) Bonding or insurance.
(g) Registration.
(h) Occupational license.

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 37:43 (emphasis added).

Act 583 mandates that a board must demonstrate any occupational regulation “to be necessary and narrowly tailored to fulfill legitimate fiduciary, public health, safety, or welfare objectives.”

As some of our very longest-term subscribers are aware, Sound Off Louisiana was founded as a direct result of founder Robert Burns’ immense frustration with the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board (LALB) and the rampant corruption Burns observed on that Board both during his short tenure on the Board (from early 2008 to September 10, 2010, at which time Burns was fired by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal, a firing he proudly wears to this day as a badge of honor) and for the approximate seven (7) years after his termination during which he routinely attended LALB meetings and published videos of the meetings.

We’re not going to go into the massive level of corruption Burns observed, but anyone is welcome to get a small glance of that corruption by clicking here.  Finally, on December 12, 2012, Burns decided he’d had all he could take of the rampant corruption within the auction industry in Louisiana, and that prompted him to film this short video clip openly comparing the LALB and many of the auctioneers in Louisiana as, “having striking similarities to the Mafia.”  Burns made it known on another short video filmed that same day that he would not be renewing his auction license for 2013.

We provide that background as to how Sound Off Louisiana came into existence primarily to demonstrate that occupation licensing is something that is near and dear to Burns’ heart, and it always will be.

With that background in mind, The Pelican Institute, a free-market think tank based in New Orleans, is an organization Burns strongly supports.  Yesterday, April 6, 2023, they announced an aggressive push to challenge many occupational licensing boards and commissions regarding overregulation, and they’re starting with The Louisiana State Board of Veterinary Medicine (LSBVM), which just so happens to be located right next to the Louisiana State Police Commission!

At any rate, from the above-linked April 6, 2023 news release:

Under this new initiative, Pelican Institute litigators filed a petition on behalf of Doctors of Veterinary Medicine Lara Stooksbury and Courtney Breen, experienced veterinarians who have been sidelined by overly restrictive regulations put in place by the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine, a governmental body which sets rules governing who can practice veterinary medicine. Specifically, they challenge a time requirement that blocks veterinarians with out-of-state licenses from practicing in Louisiana if they have not practiced for an average of twenty hours per week without significant interruption in five years immediately preceding application.

“Through this initiative, we will help these veterinarians get to work so they can earn a living in Louisiana, as they are entitled to do,” said James Baehr, Special Counsel at the Pelican Institute. “With their help, we will begin to cut through this ridiculous red tape that is tying too many hardworking hands in our state.”

Dr. Stooksbury was born and raised in Mandeville, LA, and graduated from Louisiana State University in 2008, then moved with her husband to work in other states. As many mothers choose to do, she decided to focus on her growing family and switched to part-time positions to allow for greater schedule flexibility. In 2021, she moved back to Louisiana, excited to introduce her children to her home. But her dreams to practice her profession in her home state have not come to fruition: despite two active licenses, no board complaints, and 15 years of excellent experience as a small animal exclusive veterinarian, the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine refused her requests to practice.

Dr. Courtney Breen is a military spouse whose husband serves in the United States Marine Corps. Dr. Breen also graduated from Louisiana State University but because of the mobility of her husband’s job, got licenses in other states after veterinary school. Like other mothers, she chose to work part time to focus on her children. When her husband was assigned to duty in Louisiana around 2018, she attempted to have her license transferred here. The Board blocked her from practicing in the state, incurring the loss of substantial income. When her husband’s duty station changed to Virginia, Dr. Breen was easily able to get a license to practice there.

But these two doctors have new hope, thanks to the Pelican Institute. They have the right to challenge unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions in front of boards and courts in the state thanks to changes in the Louisiana Administrative Procedure code, championed by the Pelican Institute. The petition on behalf of Dr. Stooksbury and Dr. Breen is the first in a series of petitions the Pelican Institute will bring on behalf of hard-working Louisianians as part of a new litigation initiative to target such restrictions.

“While it saddens me to take legal action against a board consisting of colleagues, this action is a last resort required to promote meaningful change that board members themselves admit require reform to address discrimination and denial of licensure for many qualified veterinarians,” said Dr. Stooksbury, “It is my hope that this action will break down unnecessary barriers so that no qualified veterinarian is ever again denied the right to practice and earn a living within the state of Louisiana.”

“The Pelican Center for Justice has won game-changing court victories, challenging federal and state overreach in Louisiana and the Fifth Circuit,” said Sarah Harbison, General Counsel of the Center for Justice, “With this initiative, we pave the way for continued success in court on behalf of Louisianans.”

“Louisianans deserve the chance to practice their professions without unnecessary restrictions. We commend these brave veterinarians for standing up for freedom and opportunity,” said Daniel Erspamer, Chief Executive Officer of the Pelican Institute. “With the success of this effort and many more to come, we will move Louisiana from one of the worst states in occupational licensing in the country to one of the best in the next few years.”

We can only add our sincere hope that Erspamer is right and that some of the absurd antics of the occupational licensing boards, to include the Dental Board and Cosmetology Board, both of which we’ve extensively reported upon, are indeed curtailed.  Being blunt, many of them are completely out of control!

Burns attended the meeting of the LSBVM of Thursday, April 6, 2023, which was held at a special location of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.  We are glad we did attend because we learned of an initiative by Attorney General (and candidate for Governor) Jeff Landry that provides each occupational licensing board and commission an opportunity to take out a “voluntary membership” with the AG’s Office which would provide, “a much higher level of protection to individual board and commission members against personal liability entailing litigation against them which is filed in Federal Court.”  The cost of the “voluntary membership” is based on the number of licensees, thus providing a bigger “benefit” to members of smaller boards and commissions with larger boards and commissions paying the freight.

We’re not going to provide our own commentary on Landry’s “voluntary membership program” because, being blunt, our commentary on it would essentially not be fit for publication!  Of course, as many subscribers and site visitors may have been able to ascertain, the same holds true about our commentary on Landry in general, and in particular the prospects for this state should he be elected Governor later this year.

We will, however, provide an unedited video of Mr. Joe Donahue, from Landry’s office, explaining the program and he and another colleague at the meeting touting the benefits of the “voluntary membership.”  Needless to say, the LSBVM voted to join, and that action was likely a direct result of the Pelican Institute’s recent initiative.  Here’s Donahue’s video:

4/6/23:  Donahue presents Landry’s “voluntary membership” program designed to assist with shielding individual members of occupational licensing boards and commissions in Louisiana from personal liability entaiking lawsuits filed against them in Federal Court.

CLICK HERE for the non-Donahue components of the 4/6/23 LSBVM meeting.

The matter of the two vets should be taken up formally at the May 23, 2023 meeting, and we certainly plan to be there with our camera and will report upon the outcome soon thereafter.

We hope everyone enjoys a very Happy Easter weekend!

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