Occupational Licensing

Florists Just Killed Louisiana's Effort at Eliminating Florist Licenses

It's the only state to require the nonsensical license, and its state senators just voted to keep it that way.


Ralf Hirschberger/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

Louisiana is the only state to require a license for cutting, arranging, and selling flowers. State senators in Louisiana just blocked a bill that would have repealed the requirement.

Facing opposition from licensed florists, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 6–1 on Tuesday to kill HB 561, which had previously cleared the state House and received vocal support from Gov. John Bel Edwards. Licensed florists who spoke to the committee before the vote argued that removing the license would somehow denigrate their profession, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

"We are artists," florist Anne Taylor told the committee. "It's not an occupation."

Practicing that art, apparently, is only possible with the state's permission. Like all good art.

State Rep. Julie Emerson (R-Carencro), who sponsored the bill to eliminate the florist license, says that argument misses the point. She's not trying to prevent anyone from being a florist. In fact, she wants to do the opposite by removing a barrier to working in the profession.

"It doesn't mean we devalue the professon, by any means," Emerson tells Reason. "Licensing is in essence getting the government's permission to perform a service. If the goverment is going to intervene, it should be because there is enough of a risk to public safety."

There's no reason to believe that unlicensed florists in 49 other states represent a threat to public safety. Rather than doing anything to advance the profession—or art—of flower-arranging, requiring a license creates a barrier for people who would otherwise be able to work in the field.

That's why Edwards, a Democrat, has called for the florist license to be abolished. "I'm not sure why we do that," he has said of the policy.

According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Justice, Louisiana's licensing requirements are the 6th worst in the nation. In addition to being the only state that licenses florists, Louisiana is one of just four states that require interior designers to be licensed. It's one of only six states to license tree-trimmers.

Edwards has also called for legislation requiring the state legislature to review all of Louisiana's occupational licenses over the next five years, with an eye towards scrapping those that do little or nothing to protect public safety. A similar bill was passed and signed into law in Nebraska last month.

Emerson has her doubts. "We have the licensing review bill coming up," says Emerson. "But if we can't repeal the one license where we're the only state that has it, what's the point of the review bill?"

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  1. Edwards has also called for legislation requiring the state legislature to review all of Louisiana’s occupational licenses over the next five years, with an eye towards scrapping those that do little or nothing to protect public safety.

    Better idea; repeal them all, and slowly reintroduce only those where public safety can be conclusively shown to be at risk.

  2. Flower power?

    1. What would Roger the Shrubber have to say about this? Did not the Roger the Shrubber travel some 143,000 light-years, w/o benefit of FTL travel, AND back, to LARN that them thar shrubbery-arranging business, and larn it GUUUUD, from that them thar who are BEYOND The Level of Humans?!?!?

      And ye mere mortals are gonna SNEER at his license??! SHAME on ye!!!!

  3. Man, the Louisiana florists’ lobby is tough.

    1. They sent funeral arrangements to the homes of each of the Ag Committee members.

      1. … making an arrangement they can’t refuse?

  4. Sad that those senators are in the pocket of Big Flower, somebody should check their campaign disclosures for contributions from the National Rose Arrangers.

    1. Ring around the rosies,
      Pockets full of posies,
      Assholes to assholes,
      We all fall down!

      We all fall down,
      (So don’t you frown),
      We all do our part,
      Our bettors NEVER fart,

      Their shit don’t stink,
      They fix it in a blink,
      So ne’er ye worry,
      Our vision is blurry,

      They’ll be back soon!
      They’ll give us their moon!

  5. I never knew “artists” historically had occupational licenses. I always thought artists were the sorts who did not conform to strict rules about who could and could not do stuff.

    1. Oh yeah after some artist graffiti’d some cave in France humans have organized themselves in order to prevent such despicable behavior. I believe the first statute by Hammurabi dealt with this serious problem.

  6. Most flowers move in interstate or international commerce – something like 70% of florist shop flowers originate in Colombia. Absent safety concerns, this is clearly an unconstitutional restraint of trade.

  7. I thought IJ got that struck down years ago.

  8. Best idea. Place a sunset clause on all occupational licensing. Then require a new bill and debate to remove that clause from individual licenses. That way the default is for all licenses to be repealed unless otherwise voted.

  9. Aha, here is yet another example of how the public sector (which includes crony capitalists) has done far more damage to the liberties of Americans than any foreign power, including that big, scary, meanie – Iran.

  10. “We are artists,” florist Anne Taylor told the committee. “It’s not an occupation.”

    Doesn’t that just destroy the whole case here? If you’re ‘artists’ then the government *can’t* demand you ask permission to practice your craft.

  11. Why do Reason and IJ focus on relatively minor occupations like floristry and ignore the really destructive bastards, lawyers and doctors?

    1. Well, because cabbies,florists, funeral directors, interior designers, ride-sharing providers, and Afro-Caribbean braiders are more important.

    2. Because trying to remove licensing from those occupations would mean going up against (1) wealthy and powerful guilds who have (2) a very plausible-sounding argument that licensing protects the public from incompetent professionals.

      When libertarians are one of the top two parties and have billions of dollars, then they should pick fights that large.

  12. Did the florists’ licensing board just call their occupation an art? Because if it is, then the First Amendment gives anyone the right to practice it, and by making that admission, the board will have lost the case.

    1. Let us hope that someone picks up on that.

  13. If a state can’t stop itself from regulating people who put flowers into a jar then freedom is a lost cause. Nothing will change until the entire thing comes crashing down in a debt/hyperinflation ridden mess.

  14. I am only a donor, not paid by IJ by any means, but if you wanna end this kinda crap, I’d suggest you toss a couple of bucks to:
    They also have an addy that even Reason doesn’t require ‘editing’!

  15. “Roger: Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land. Nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress at this period in history.
    King Arthur: Did you say shrubberies?
    Roger: Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies.”

    Sad times indeed.

  16. You know what happens when you allow unlicensed florists? Triffids! Triffids happen!

  17. That is related to why I left LA in 1974. I was fixing TV’s in my home in New Orleans, and decided to go fully into the TV business and quit my job as engineer for IBM. I had been a radar instructor in the US Army also, as a draftee.
    BUT the bureaucrats there told me I had to pay several hundred dollars, take a course, and wait a few months to get my “license”…..So I went over to Waveland, MS, 45 minutes away, and found out the license there would cost $10, and I needed to fill out a ONE-PAGE form.
    So, we moved there, opened a business for the next 25 years, hiring several helpers, built houses near the beach, was president of the PTA, ran for school board, etc. etc., a good life, there instead of LA, all because of USELESS LA bureaucrats!

  18. Who granted Van Gogh an artist’s license?

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