Explainer Episode 28 – Rep. Harshbarger on the Freedom to Work Act

In May 2021, Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenneessee) introduced the “Freedom to Work Act,” a bill that would utilize the federal government to reduce occupational licensing requirements. In this episode, the Congresswoman joins Shoshana Weissmann to discuss the bill and the most prevalent arguments for and against its passage.

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Transcript

Although this transcript is largely accurate, in some cases it could be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

[Music and Narration]

 

Introduction:  Welcome to the Regulatory Transparency Project’s Fourth Branch podcast series. All expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

 

Jack Derwin:  Welcome to the Regulatory Transparency Project’s Explainer Podcast, part of RTPs Fourth Branch Podcast Series. My name is Jack Derwin, and I’m Assistant Director of RTP. Today, I’m excited to be joined by Representative Diana Harshbarger and Shoshana Weissmann to discuss the Freedom to Work Act. 

 

Diana Harshbarger is a United States Representative from Tennessee’s First District. She was first elected in 2020 and serves on the House Education and Labor and House Homeland Security Committees. Shoshana Weissmann, our host today, is Senior Manager of Digital Media and a Fellow at the R Street Institute, where her work focuses on occupational licensing reform, the Supreme Court, and social media regulation. Thank you both so much for joining us today. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann: Thank you so much for having me. And Congresswoman, it’s such a pleasure to talk to you. I’m a big fan of the bill, and I think it’s also a really unique and interesting approach. But I have to know — you just came to Congress, you’re just getting started, and all ready you’re like here’s a completely new approach to federal licensing reform and one of the few kinds of constitutional ones. How in the world did you decide to jump into this? How did you learn about licensing reform? And what made you introduce the legislation?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, Shoshana, it’s good to be here with you today. And I’m very happy to talk about this bill. I’ve been a pharmacist for 35 years and a business owner, and as a pharmacist, I’ve dealt with occupational licensing boards, honestly, throughout my whole career. Even if they’re not a certified pharmacy tech, if I had someone running my register out front, they have to be — they have to have a license to do that, a pharmacy tech license. 

 

So it’s not something new to me, and as a compounding pharmacist, you wouldn’t believe what the FDA has done to overregulate us and divided us into two different types of compounding pharmacies, 503(a), 503(b), so yes, ma’am, I understand that totally. And I can tell you this. The government needs more people who have been business owners in government. We don’t need more government in our businesses. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  I agree wholeheartedly. And especially the past year or so has shown the importance of regulatory reform as it relates to the medical profession, so bringing that perspective is really, really great. Not only do we not have enough business owners in Congress, not so sure we have enough ones in the medical field who can kind of understand the connection there. So tell us about the Freedom to Work Act and why you decided to take this specific approach using the federal government as an employer and reforming from within. 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, I’m happy to share that with you. The Freedom to Work Act directs the federal government to conduct a self-audit. Now, that’s almost too funny to believe, but they’re going to have to do a self-audit to identify regulatory policies that may be incentivizing states to create or retain otherwise unnecessary occupational licensing requirements. And then once they self-audit, then it directs the federal government to eliminate those requirements in — honestly, we are getting ready to reauthorize WIOA, and that’s the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. 

 

What it will do — this Freedom to Work Act also updates the state plan requirements so that states have to outline their plan to reduce licensing barriers when applying for WIOA funding. It relates to my mission because it’s one of the biggest initiatives to opening the country back up for business. Tennessee has been open for business a lot longer than a lot of other states. And why do we want to put roadblocks in front of people who want to get back to work? That’s the bottom line. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Definitely. And as a scholar on this issue, I just agree wholeheartedly. But tell us, have you faced any opposition? Have people come to you with concerns about the legislation or any of the approaches? Or has the response all been positive so far?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, you’re always going to get pushback any time you want to make changes. And there’s certain industry groups that have reached out to us and just tell us they’re concerned that they’re going to get swept up in this legislation. The bottom line is, if — as who pushed back, I don’t want to single out anybody or any industry. 

 

But my message is this to industries trying to push back is if you’ve read this bill and you think your license will be up on a chopping block as a result, well, maybe it should be because who would have thought that you had to have a license as a shampoo girl at the corner hair salon for God’s sakes. A milk sampler, I think, is another one. These are ridiculous. Who knew? I mean, I’m here to let people know there’s some crazy things out there. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  So whether it’s in your district or in your personal experience, do you have stories you’ve come across over the years where you found out someone had to be licensed and you were just shocked by it? Or again, in your own experience, have you found that licensing was a really big barrier to your success or to the success of those you worked with?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, let me give you an example of a friend who is a massage therapist, and she’s very, very good, as a matter of fact. But she was telling me the story — just like in my profession as a pharmacist, of course, you want a licensed pharmacist to dispense your medication. And we have to go through continuing education. Well, I didn’t know this, but massage therapists have to do so many CE hours per year to retain their license. 

 

So what that means — she’s self-employed, so she has to take off work, that’s lost revenue. She has to pay for the continuing education course. She has to pay for a hotel for a three-day course. Not to mention that it’s normally in another state. So what a barrier that is. And I can see why a lot of people won’t renew their licenses or do their CE and hope they don’t get caught because it’s such a barrier to running their small business or to their profession in general.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  It’s funny you mention — my Mom’s actually a licensed massage therapist, which is great —

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Really?

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  — because I have fibromyalgia, so when I go home, I’m like, “Mom, give me a massage.” But it’s great —

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  I could talk all day about that. We need to do some podcasts with some medical advice. Hey, I could do that all day.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Oh, yeah — yeah. My — you know, for someone with fibro, there’s no better Mom I could have been born to than the one who can massage me [Laughter]. But she’ll tell me about her continuing education courses and all the hoops she has to jump through there. 

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  But still, I think it’s fascinating that you come to Congress and you dive so deep into issues. I think a lot of freshman members aren’t sure where to start or are sometimes a little bit nervous to dive in, especially on the issues that are just so deep rather than ones that are — may be more popular or may be more sexy looking.

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Yeah [Laughter].

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  What made you choose regulatory reform? You come to Congress, and you’re like, you know what, regulatory reform. What was your mindset there?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, I’ve been coming to Capitol Hill for 25 years plus to talk to my Congressmen and my Senators about my profession and the overregulation that I have suffered. And finally, it’s almost like you walk up here and they’re like yes — yes — yes, but they’re shaking their head no — no — no. And I’m like, okay, I’ll do it myself. So I ran for Congress. 

 

One of the things is when you live in the real world, and you run a business — and we talked about this, there’s not that many business owners in Congress. And when you understand — even to open a pharmacy, for goodness sakes, you have to have a business license. You have to have a pharmacy license. And you have to have a non-control license, a control license. You have to be licensed in every state. And those barriers are becoming so cumbersome that — I can’t even mail across the street with some regulation as far as certain states go. But that spurred me on to use common-sense measures. 

 

I’m like, why do you want to inhibit people going back to work when this economy needs them so desperately? Get rid of these things that inhibit them. So there’s your answers. It’s because I’ve lived and worked in the real world, and you bring some of that expertise to Congress, and it shocks people. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Have you found any colleagues who are interested in working with you on this? I know that there’s a lot of licensing reformers throughout both Houses who have different interests. For example, Senator Tom Cotton is big on the military angle, and Senator Elizabeth Warren is big on the student loans licensing thing. It’s this really strange issue where if you fall behind on student loans, they can take away your license to work. And there’s a federal hook there because — I know there’s a federal hook there [Laughter]. 

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Because it was encouraged by Department of Education — I think the first President Bush’s Department of Education. It was either Bush or Clinton, and I always forget. But each member has — who is into this — generally has a bit of their own interests. So have you found a lot of comradery and a lot of interest in this? Or have you been more off by yourself?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, we have Republican support. What city in America doesn’t have a small business with these occupational licensing problems? I mean, everybody’s — when I go out to talk to people, I’m here to educate them about what I have expertise in but not one member of Congress has a constituent that doesn’t have a problem with an occupational licensing requirement. For God’s sakes, in each state — the crazy thing is, I was looking at some of the things — this transcends — Republican or Democrat — I’m looking at what President Trump passed, and what Obama passed, they’re similar in their approaches to this, honestly. And it talks about — for example, estimates suggest that over 1,000 occupations are regulated in at least one state, but fewer than 60 are regulated in all 50 states. This is what I’m saying. It doesn’t transcend. 

 

It’s almost like, for example, say you’re in the military, and you know you’re going to be deployed all over the place. What about that spouse that may have a license? The only thing I can see with reciprocity is going to be the VA. And not everybody works for the VA. But you have to get licensed in that state. There’s so many barriers to that spouse getting a job in her selected field or his selected field that it’s unbelievable. So this should transcend, honestly. It should be bipartisan in every way, shape, or form, is what I’m trying to say because there’s so many examples that we could go over right here, and reciprocity is one of them.   

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Has there been any bipartisan interest yet? I know sometimes it takes a while, but I’m hoping to see interest from both sides, and even little critiques from both sides, trying to build a better bill if that’s the case.

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Oh, yeah. I don’t care to walk up on the floor. I don’t — and I had constructed a list yesterday of different people that have signed onto some of my other legislation because it’s really hard in this environment — remember, now, I’m a newbie. I’ve never been in politics. I’ve never held elected office. I went straight to Congress. When I look at this, I’m like, this is common sense. I’ll just pick the phone up, and I’ll call. And I gave some of my policy advisors some information and some people on the other side of the aisle to go ahead and contact. Contact their staff. I want to set up a meeting. 

 

I want to explain this to them because, in Congress, I’ve come to the conclusion, I’m here to educate other members about things that I know about. And why wouldn’t you have that dialogue? Just like they don’t want to — they make us a — it’s almost like the hamster in the wheel. You’re doing so much busywork that you can’t really get any good policy done. And I’m like, just sit down and talk about it. How hard is that? That’s what we do in the business world. You have a discussion. You have a round table, and you say, well, tell me what you like and what you don’t like. And that’s just personal experience I’m bringing in. And that’s the way Congress should be run, but sorry to say that that’s not the way it is [Laughter]. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Not to get too fluffy here, but this is something that I really appreciate, people in elected office who genuinely just want to sit down with all kinds of people and come up with all different kinds of ideas. Actually, on that note, have you found that that attitude has benefited you thus far in Congress? Have you come across new ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise because of it?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Oh, absolutely. Some of the things — I’ll look at letters from constituents, and I call them my friends and neighbors because that’s what they are. Once I go through, and I start reading those and I see consensus on one issue, that may prompt me to say, “Hey, can we do a piece of legislation? Is anything out there like this?” I was just talking to one of the guys in the office a minute ago and said, “Why in the world can we not just do one bill at a time? What’s all this en bloc nonsense?” You’ll have good things in with bad things, and you have to say yes or no. That’s nuts. I said, “Get me something together and let’s just go up and put it on — I’ll go talk about it on the floor. I’ll put it out.” So it’s stuff like that. 

 

I found out the other day that sometimes insurance will cover — say, if a woman has breast cancer, they’ll cover a full mastectomy, but they won’t cover reconstruction. I’m like, how crazy is that? And why is that? Or even the sleeves — I had someone reach out to me to put legislation that Medicare and insurances would cover the sleeve. For example, lipanopathy, when they do have those lymph nodes taken out — it’s stuff like that that drives you crazy. It’s like, why don’t they cover that? Well, what can I do to help? It’s not that I’m all about — I don’t want federal regulation in our businesses. That’s not what I’m talking about. But there’s some common-sense measures that you look at and say, “Why didn’t they do this in the first place?” What is it? Is it job security for everybody? I don’t know. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Well, honestly, that’s kind of how I feel about your bill. I don’t know why this hasn’t been done before. And it’s — I think it’s really interesting too because it’s something — I’ve talked about the concept with different members and different staff members over the years, and when I talk about — with people the various possible and constitutional licensing reform solutions — because I’m a very big federalist and to a fault a member of The Federalist Society. I’ve actually been a member since I was 16 — 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Wow.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  — because I’m a really, really big dork.

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, you don’t look older than 16.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  I know. I’m 16 and a half. I haven’t been in it very long [Laughter]. 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Hey, I tell my son, “You are older than I am.” I say, “We start backing up after a point [Laughter].”

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Exactly. But because there’s so few solutions out there that are constitutional, most people and understandably jump towards military spouses and other things like that. But you’re the first person I’ve seen go all-in on the licensing reform from within from the federal government. So genuinely, I was so curious why you decided to take that route as opposed to the few other routes that exist that everyone else took. You’re the first. So, why? 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, like I say, I have been in — the pharmacy is probably the most regulated profession in the world if you want to know the truth. And when you look at that, and you apply that to everyday life — let’s go back to talking about what President Trump and President Obama did. They had the same mindset with — well, you know, I was on an ed and labor call the other day. I’m on the committee — the educational labor committee, and I’m on the higher education workforce development. I really push the workforce development. 

 

And we were recently — on ed and labor, we were holding hearings on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and honestly, about the reauthorization of that. I am fighting to get this bill incorporated into that reauthorization because it makes sense. I believe we have a great opportunity to include that, especially as part of the bill in the updates. But look, it’s educating other members, and we were talking on that call or it could have been another hearing about recidivism. Here we’d have the First Step Act that President Trump — that was bipartisan. 

 

And when I started reading about that, that was his signature bill. Many of these occupational licensing boards exclude formerly incarcerated individuals from obtaining a license and returning to work. I don’t care how long they’ve been out. What does that say about our society? We are here wanting them to become productive citizens, and what are we doing? We’re putting barriers up. How ludicrous is that? And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. 

 

It’s just — and here was one of the statistics that says as a result, states with lower occupational licensing burdens have lower rates of recidivism. Whereas states with higher occupational licensing burdens have higher rates of recidivism. So it’s pretty critical that we remove those barriers so those people can have the life they’ve always wanted and be productive and get them back into society as a contributing citizen. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  So my organization works quite a bit on these, and I’m always floored by those good moral — sorry, air quotes, “good moral character laws” that have no legal definition, it’s just whatever you think it means — and the arbitrary nature of those kinds of laws. But again, I’m kind of fascinated. How did you get into such a niche issue where you’re all ready diving into the weeds on criminal justice reform, too, along with this? Because you had a good reason for the other stuff, but how do you get into this?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, I’m tired of government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. That’s real simple. And if I can get them out of certain regulations let the states do their job that’s what it’s all about. I came here to cut red tape, not create red tape. And that’s where I’m at. That’s why when you start looking, and you listen to these — like I say, I read the emails. I take the calls. I have people text me. I want to know what’s going on. And this is just one of the things. 

 

Honestly, it’s — a lot of it’s personal experience. And when I have — listen, I’ve been doing this for 35 years in pharmacy. And I’ve run a business for way over 30. There is — I mean, in multiple states — and you talk to people. I have lived a regular life outside of Washington. And I’m telling you, that means a whole lot. And I was talking to a couple of members on the floor, and I’m like, I don’t know — how do you legislate if you’re in this bubble? That’s what I’m asking you. How do you do that when you don’t really know how the world works? You legislate on things you know. And boy, that becomes the gospel. 

 

That’s why there’s so many people that won’t listen because they don’t understand. They’ve lived a certain way their whole life and been sheltered, I guess you could say. And here I am, I’ve been out in the world in the real world and I’m talking to people every day. And I’ve heard this my whole life. So it’s really — a lot of it’s personal experience. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  So on that note, actually, there’s some people on both the left and the right who are criticizing, even focusing, on licensing reform these days. There’s people who are saying there’s much bigger issues, that it’s a silly focus. And, of course, I disagree. But I want to know why you choose to because it sounds like you’re connecting it to real people, and that’s where it’s coming from from you. But I was wondering, what makes you think this is what real people want?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, because they flat out tell me they want it — just like my massage therapist who’s a friend, like the hairdresser. We have so many job openings right now. Why wouldn’t we take these barriers away? Why wouldn’t we do that to get them back into the workforce? And Tennessee is a right-to-work state, and I don’t know why — I was looking at the number of — I can’t even remember how many occupational license requirements they have, but the goal should be to reduce that by a certain percent every year. There’s always going to be things that you have to have licenses for, for God’s sake. You want your dental hygienist to have a license. You want a dental assistant, maybe, to have a license, maybe to be certified through the state. I don’t know how they want to work that. 

 

But it is so up and down from one state to the other. You go right across five minutes from where I live, and you’re in Virginia. My world — that’s like a whole other world. And I’m telling you that because I’m licensed in Virginia as well as Tennessee and North Carolina and all these places. The boards that you have to take there are extremely different than what Tennessee is. And there’s no continuity across the states, so how would you ever — and I understand why they would have — like to have something that would be congruent to match every state. Every state’s different. But don’t make it more difficult for me to stick my toe over in Virginia and have to go through 50 different licensing protocols in order to do what I’m doing in Tennessee. That doesn’t make a bit of sense to me. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Yeah, I hear that a lot about all different kinds of licenses that it’s just so different from state to state. And as you had said before, all different states have different licenses. And my favorite example is always Louisiana’s lone florist license. That one — 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Yeah.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  That’s my white whale [Laughter]. That one — that’s just my white whale [Laughter].

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Who knew — who knew? I’m like, I never knew [Laughter]. I watch [Ina Garten] to get my information, so there you go [Laughter].

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  It seems you’re really focused on the workforce, and you want to help people get back to work, especially while we’re in a labor shortage. So are there other ideas you’re kind of toying around with? Or other legislation that you’d like to highlight that you’re thinking about right now?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Oh, gosh. I’ve got a lot of stuff. I don’t want to blow a surprise or anything, but you’ll be the first to know when I — if I get that Clean Bill Act out, oh, you’ll be the first to know. Trust me. There’s just a lot of things that I want to do. My expertise happens to be in the healthcare field, and there’s a lot of things that we need to do. I’m working with the doctor’s caucus on healthcare reform, things of that nature. Some of the crazy rules — there’s so many, I can’t even begin to tell you. I need a flowchart in some categories to figure out — and I’m serious, and I’ve told my staff this. It’s almost like you can’t keep up with the regulatory boards. 

 

And a lot of times, they don’t, honest to goodness, they don’t even know what they’re doing. I know in my own personal life, in the pharmacy, I’ve had to — this is when you would fax something. I would have to fax insurance carriers the rules that they sent me to abide by because they didn’t know. And that’s what I’m saying. When we get that bad, there’s a problem. So simplify — I tell people all the time, don’t make it a calculous problem. People understand simple math, so let’s make it simple so everyone can understand. And that way that would promote them to maybe doing the career that they really do want to do. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Definitely. And just out of curiosity on that note, have you looked into certificate of need laws at all?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, in certain things in the healthcare industry with certificate of need, but I don’t get too far into weeds like that. But I’ll tell you what I really want to do, and that’s — this is another topic nobody — it’s a calculous problem, honestly — is pharmacy benefit manager over authority because in my profession that is a killer. And they are not regulated at all. Who audits them? And I’ve asked that question to the FTC. Of course, I never got a letter back. But I’m like, okay, you want to cut some regulation and bring drug pricing down? That’s where I really want to focus on. 

 

And boy, would that shed light. And people are beginning to understand, even the Senate side, they’re coming over saying, hey, let us in on what you know. This is my area of expertise, so if we can tackle that bear, that’s a whole new thing. And we need to take the FTC and say, “Where have you been?” Where have you been? If you’re going to regulate, and that’s part of what you do, why didn’t you do this, even as far back as 2006? I’m on a roll on that, so get ready. You heard it here first that that’s one of the things I’m going to be working on.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  That’s really exciting. There’s so much to be done, unfortunately. I know we can go all day about all different kinds of ones. Only getting into the medical side of regulatory reform a few years ago, it never ends, like you’ve been saying. 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Oh, my gosh, yeah. That’s the flowchart I’m talking about. When I talk to public — say it’s public health versus the private healthcare, my goodness. There’s so much that you can simplify. Simplify the paperwork for these precious people. They can’t — even the VA — you have to take a dictionary to even understand what you’re talking about when you call one of these people. You would think the VA would cover everyone, but they don’t. 

 

And I’m seeing that with constituents in my area. I think we have maybe 75,000 veterans. And what happens is they all have unique problems and to know that some of them are so similar but they won’t — they don’t help that person the same as the other. Where’s the justification for that? Show me in the VA handbook why you can’t take care of one, but you do the other. So there’s just a lot of areas — listen, there’s a lot of areas that I want to delve into. This is just — this is a simple way for me to put my toe in the water and say, hey, come on in. Let’s stop some of these crazy regulations on occupational licensing requirements. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  It’s a really great start. And I just find it so interesting because, for years of being like, hey, what about regulatory reform from within, there wasn’t much interest until you came along. So I’m very thankful for that, not just as a scholar but also as a nerd. I’m very excited about it. So what do you think the outlook of your legislation is? What’s next for it? What should I be looking out for?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, like I say, on ed and labor, we’ve mentioned that. We want that incorporated into their new WIOA reauthorization. So hopefully — I mean, I told them all on the hearing. I said, “Every one of you on this committee should sign up and sponsor this bill.” And they just smile. Now I’m going after them. That’s my goal. Wouldn’t that be lovely if, as a freshman, I could get that incorporated into that reauthorization bill? That’d be fantastic as far as I’m concerned. It’s a small win. To me, it’s really not a small win. It’s a big win. It’s a big win for the people I serve. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Oh, absolutely. And also, when government takes care of itself from within, I think that’s just something that’s so underrated and so important. Because at first place, government should start looking at itself and making sure —

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger: Self-audits — you are — listen, I’ve got a list of — I’m making it it’s getting bigger every day of the departments that I either cut out and reduce in size. I’ve got a list. And later on — you can come back to me next year, and we’ll see how far I’ve got.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Oh, I like that. It’s going to be one heck of a flowchart. 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  True.

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  One thing I wanted to mention too is that I really like your idea on the transparency too. One thing that Utah has done that I think can actually be really instructive — they have this great page that if you have former convictions, you can take a look and see how much time has passed and your eligibility for licenses if it’s definitely you can’t get it, if you might be able to, or if you can and don’t have to worry. 

 

And I think it can be complicated, and sometimes it can be more harm than good to have so much, but there is really a benefit there. And I think that we need to have some more of that in government just so that way people can understand the regulations and the way they apply. So one last question — and I’m just going to take my interviewers prerogative here — I’m a big hiker. What is your favorite National Park?

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Oh, for heaven’s sake, you must know I’m from East Tennessee — the Great Smokey Mountains. The Appalachian Trail runs right behind my farm, as a matter of fact. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Oh, no way.

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  And it’s the tenth highest spot on the whole trail. It’s called Ball Mountain. And my husband figured out a shortcut to get up to it. But let me just tell you this is my little piece of information for you if you ever — nothing prepares you to hike that. I’m just going to tell you. I don’t care if you’ve been on the stair stepper. You can get on the eclipse machine. You can get on whatever you want. Nothing prepares you. 

 

It is like walk — I’ve been pregnant. It’s like walking up a mountain nine months pregnant, except the load is on your back, not your belly. And I swear, if I could have found somebody around to carry my backpack to the top, I would have paid them. That is rough. But we live in the most beautiful part of Tennessee, and honestly, on the East Coast. I’m telling you it’s a magnificent place — East Tennessee is. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  I’ve had friends go there recently. So when I noticed it was in your district, I had to ask. I knew that was going to be your answer [Laughter]. I didn’t think —

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, you —

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  — that your farm would be right there, though.

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Well, yeah. Neither did I. What about that — it’s right on there [Laughter]. I don’t know how — I know how long it took me to get up to the top. I just don’t know how long the distance is [Laughter]. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Well, thank you so much for your time and for walking us through all your work, your focus. And I’m really excited to see where your work goes, again, as a scholar but also as just a giant nerd. So thank you so much. And thank you to The Federalist Society for having me and letting me nerd out with you. 

 

Rep. Diana Harshbarger:  Oh, Shoshana, it’s been my pleasure. You call me any time. 

 

Shoshana Weissmann:  Oh, thank you. 

 

Jack Derwin:  Well, thank you so much, Congresswoman and Shoshana, for joining us today. And thank you to our audience for tuning into this episode of RTP’s Explainer Podcast. You can subscribe on any major podcast platform. And check out our website at regproject.org or our social media accounts @FedSocRTP to learn more. Thank you.

 

 

 

[Music]

 

Conclusion:  On behalf of The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project, thanks for tuning in to the Fourth Branch podcast. To catch every new episode when it’s released, you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spreaker. For the latest from RTP, please visit our website at www.regproject.org.

 

[Music]

 

This has been a FedSoc audio production.

Diana Harshbarger

United States Representative

Tennessee


Shoshana Weissmann

Senior Manager of Digital Media and Fellow

R Street Institute


Labor & Employment
State & Local

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