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Patrick submits plan to simplify licensing rules

Proposal would update or drop some regulations

Governor Deval Patrick on Monday proposed a package of reforms aimed at streamlining business regulations, including the consolidation of licensing boards for barbers and cosmetologists and the elimination of a board that licenses radio and television technicians.

The proposals represent the third wave of recommendations made by the Patrick administration since last March, when the governor launched an effort to simplify state regulations. So far, the administration has suggested changes to almost two-thirds of the 446 regulations it has reviewed.

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“These common-sense changes in the Division of Professional Licensure are further steps forward in improving the business climate,” Patrick said. “Together with our work to update or eliminate old regulations, simplify tax laws, contain health care costs, and enhance access to capital, we are making Massachusetts an even better place to do business.”

Patrick’s recommendations need the approval of the Legislature.

The new Cosmetology and Barbering Board would oversee professionals in both fields, as well as those in electrology, or laser hair removal.

Eliminating the Board of Registration of Radio and Television Technicians would end regulation of a dying profession. The board has issued only 23 new licenses in the last five years and fewer than 800 people in the state hold television and radio repair licenses.

Some schools that once taught the trade, like the RETS Technical Center in Charlestown, have dropped their repair classes because today’s consumers are much more likely to replace their electronics than to fix them.

The Division of Professional Licensure said cutting the television and radio board would enable regulators to focus on other matters and allow the few remaining technicians to operate without the hassle and expense of annual license renewals.

Patrick’s recommendations also included a cap on relicensing fees for workers in some fields who have allowed their credentials to lapse. Currently, a massage therapist who has not practiced in four years would be subject to a $652 reentry fee.

Business groups applauded Patrick’s proposals as part of a broader cutting of red tape.

“Building on earlier regulatory reforms, the proposed changes to the professional licensing regulations will make it easier for businesses to grow and succeed here,” said Jim Klocke, executive vice president of Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Earlier reform proposals yielded by the governor’s review initiative include standardizing fees charged for police escorts on oversized loads on the Massachusetts Turnpike and cutting redundant environmental regulations.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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