Florida bill takes on occupational license reform

A Florida bill (SB 526), sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes (R) is taking on occupational licensing reform.

This legislation repeals or revises licensing and permit requirements and regulations for certain business professionals, such as landscapers, barbers, hair wrappers, hair braiders, manicurists, pedicurists, and makeup artists.

Track SB 526
Original filed version

The Liberty First Network notes, “Occupational Licensing forces aspiring workers to spend months in training, pass exams and pay fees. Occupational licensing requirements have created barriers for people to find jobs and build new businesses, especially for lower-income workers. A study from the Institute for Justice that found that Florida’s occupational licensing regulations are one of the most restrictive in the nation.”

The Reason Foundation and the DeVoe L. Moore Center put together a Policy Brief on Occupational Licensing in Florida.

Excerpts from the policy brief include:

“Occupational licensing” requires aspiring workers and entrepreneurs to secure government permission to enter a particular field. Through a combination of educational and experience requirements, as well as exams and fees, occupational licensing attempts to protect consumers from malpractice and ensure that practitioners are sufficiently skilled. While only one in 20 U.S. workers was required to obtain licensure in the 1950s, nearly one in three workers is required to do so today, with the average occupation requiring nine months of training, $209 in fees, and an exam.”

“A study comparing the burden of occupational licensing requirements in each state — as measured by fees, training, tests and limitations — ranks Florida the  fourth most burdensome in the nation. Florida, which prides itself on being job-friendly, puts far more burdens on would-be professionals than New Jersey, New York, California and Massachusetts!”

“Florida requires a license for 326 professions and businesses. Many of those  requirements do not protect consumers from any obvious harms, but do reduce jobs and competition and raise prices. Florida may need to reconsider some occupational licensing requirements.”

“If so many other states have found ways to protect consumers of professions like interior designers, security guards, childcare workers and make-up artists without requiring licenses, Florida might consider doing the same.”

“Overall, the empirical research does not find large improvements in quality or health and safety from more stringent licensing. In fact, in only two out of the 12 studies was greater licensing associated with quality improvements.”

“Occupational regulation has limited consumer choice, raised consumer costs, increased practitioner income, limited practitioner mobility, and deprived the poor of adequate services—all without demonstrated improvements in the quality or safety of the licensed activities.”

“About 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force work in professions that require State licenses or certification, and they are ten times more likely to have moved across State lines in the last year than their civilian counterparts. These military spouses may have difficulty acquiring a new license each time they move or meeting different license requirements in their new State.”

“Examining the list of licensed occupations in Florida, some low-hanging fruit stands out. It is hard to see how limiting competition and raising prices is the best way to protect consumers of services like: Auctioneer; Barber; Caterer; Check Casher; Cosmetologist; Interior Designer; Hair Wrapper; Landscape; Architect; Massage Therapist; Mediator; Nail Specialist; Plumbing Contractor; Pool Contractor; Security Officer; Talent Agency; Yacht Salesman”

A 2015 White House report states, “the current licensing regime in the United States also creates substantial costs, and often the requirements for obtaining a license are not in sync with the skills needed for the job. There is evidence that licensing requirements raise the price of goods and services, restrict employment opportunities, and make it more difficult for workers to take their skills across State lines. Too often, policymakers do not carefully weigh these costs and benefits when making decisions about whether or how to regulate a profession through licensing. In some cases, alternative forms of occupational regulation, such as State certification, may offer a better balance between consumer
protections and flexibility for workers”

The DeVoe L. Moore Center is an academic and applied policy research center in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University. The Center focuses on state and local government, land use, growth management, and regulation.

Reason Foundation is a research and education (501(c)(3)) organization that is supported by voluntary contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. According to their website, “Reason Foundation advances a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law. Reason Foundation produces respected public policy research on a variety of issues.”


License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

Occupational License Reform in Florida

Felony Conviction, Barrier to Obtaining Professional License

SB 146 (2011) “Jim King Keep Florida Working Act.” re: Criminal Justice Reform and Employment