Occupational Licensing

Florida Just Passed the Most Sweeping Occupational Licensing Reform in History

The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act "will save thousands of Floridians both time and money for years to come," says Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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Sweeping reforms signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday will loosen or abolish occupational licensing regulations across more than 30 professions, cutting red tape for potentially thousands of workers in the state.

The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, which cleared the state legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year, "will save thousands of Floridians both time and money for years to come," DeSantis said in a statement announcing his signing of the bill.

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R–Spring Hill), the bill's sponsor, called it the largest license deregulation effort in Florida history. According to the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that advocates for licensing reform and sues states over unfair licensing laws, Florida's House Bill 1193 (H.B. 1193) might be an even bigger deal. In a statement, the institute said the bill "repeals more occupational licensing laws than any licensing reform ever passed by any other state."

The bill fully repeals some of the state's most unnecessary licensing laws, including those that previously governed interior designers, hair braiders, and boxing match timekeepers. It loosens the state's cosmetology licensing laws to allow a wide range of hair and nail styling activities to take place outside of licensed salons—a particularly timely reform in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, as it will pave the way for stylists to make house calls.

Dieticians and nutritionists will be able to work without fear of being targetted by sting operations and threatened with jail time simply for the supposed crime of giving out tips about healthy eating. The new law will allow "any person who provides information, wellness recommendations, or advice concerning nutrition" to do so without a license as long as they do not provide those services to individuals under the direct care of a physician for medical reasons, or advertise themselves as medical professionals.

The bill also eliminates separate business licenses for architects, geologists, and landscape architects who already hold individual licenses in those fields. (Although that does raise the question of why geologists and landscape architects need to be licensed in the first place; hopefully DeSantis will get around to fixing that next.)

Importantly, the new law follows on some reforms passed by Arizona last year to expand the recognition of out-of-state licenses. Barbers and cosmetologists licensed in other states will be allowed to practice their trades in Florida without having to get re-licensed, and the law instructs the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation to begin the process of identifying other professions where similar reciprocity could be offered.

The new law also clears up a longstanding disagreement over whether state or local officials control the licensing process for food trucks by placing health and safety issues under state authority. Local officials will still be able to keep food trucks out of certain areas with zoning laws, but they won't be able to pile additional licensing requirements on top of existing state rules to block vendors from operating. Florida is just the third state to pass such a law, according to the Institute for Justice.

"Florida's reform will fuel economic growth and open up opportunity to entry-level entrepreneurs throughout the state," says Scott Bullock, president of the Institute for Justice.

Licensing reform is on the agenda in many state capitols. More than 1,000 licensing reform bills were introduced last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state-level legislation. But lawmakers everywhere are now chasing Florida, which has raised the bar for what should be considered achievable.

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  1. “law instructs the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation to begin the process of identifying other professions where similar reciprocity could be offered.”

    I am retired, but offer this business consulting opinion for free: “all of them”.

    1. I’ll offer just one exception to that, lawyers.

      State law is different from state to state, as are state court procedures and rules. So state by state licensing makes at least a little sense.

      1. We have social media to sort out the good, bad, and ugly.

      2. Wholeheartedly agree and concur that you should always seek the counsel of local attorneys on whatever you’re doing, particularly in matters that are particularly local like real estate. Let me give you an example, from, of all places, Florida. An out-of-state manufacturing company wanted to do a sale and lease back of one of its facilities in Florida, and we prepared the papers in the usual way and were simply going to record them with the county recorder/clerk and pay a modest filing charge we thought, since most places don’t regard such a transaction as an actual sale which would have implications for fees and taxes and the like. At the last minute, just to cover matters and almost as an afterthought, we consulted local Florida counsel. He explained that we could do what we planned to do in the way we planned to do it but we would incur a filing or recording tax or some other name of tax because of the way everything has been structured, in the tens of thousands of dollars. He further explained that because Florida has no income tax in the state, they find a way to tax many other things that would not be so taxed in other places, and then he showed us how to do it the Florida way which resulted in, as we hoped, a filing fee and a modest tax of a couple hundred dollars. So, for a small fee of less than $1000 we saved tens of thousands of dollars, based on entire local knowledge that unless you’ve done it there once already you would have no basis to know that if you weren’t a Florida lawyer. So: Always run the deal you’re trying to do by local counsel (as you should always run it by tax counsel) before you step off the edge of the pool into the alligator infested waters.

        1. Not that the local Florida licensing lawyer laws and bar exam requirements aren’t designed mainly to protect the local guild, pardon me, the local bar, from intrusion and competition by lawyers who are retiring there from other places like New York and New Jersey and Pennsylvania, etc. You can see this by the lack of reciprocity that Florida allows New York lawyers because New York doesn’t allow reciprocity in favor of Florida. New York and New Jersey have the same Mexican standoff going, but nowadays the answer is you simply buy a practice if you want to expand in a new state and install one or three local lawyers, and you’ve beaten this rule so it’s not really protecting the local guild like it used to (except for those two or three newly employed local lawyers in the new office, it works just fine for that). It does however as my earlier comment points out tend to make sure that practicing lawyers know the local law.

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  2. Florida needs more licensing, not less.
    How else are bureaucrats and politicians be able to purchase that bitchin’ third Mercedes Benz or their fourth vacation home in Monaco.
    Besides, one needs decades of training to braid hair, hammer wood into a bookcase, de-congest a plugged up toilet, drive a car, etc.
    Licensing proves the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars annually, a person knows what the hell their doing and won’t launch missiles from NORAD on Jacksonville.
    That’s why people spends tens of thousands of dollars for a bachelor’s degree in college and then spend even more to go to a law school or medical school to ensure they know what they’re doing.
    Lincoln had to have license to practice law.
    Pasteur had to have a license to make milk more safe.
    Jesus had to have a license to raise the dead.
    Moses had to have a license to part the Red Sea.
    If licensing is good enough for these people, then it’s good for the rest of us.

    1. The person destined to cure cancer will never get the job done because smoking weed in high school prevents them from getting a license.
      And, just to mix the thread, the person destined to cure AIDS was aborted.

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  3. Although that does raise the question of why geologists and landscape architects need to be licensed in the first place; hopefully DeSantis will get around to fixing that next.

    Perhaps you are unclear on the concept of making and changing laws; it requires the legislature to make the first move.

    1. Landscape architects do not need a different license than a general architect or civil engineering license, but if they are designing retaining walls or other structures and affecting property drainage they do need a license. For geologists, buildings fall if built on bad soil.

      1. I don’t know how it’s set up in FL, but in PA, geologists are grouped in with engineers and surveyors.

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      2. If you have a valid geology degree, then no license should be necessary. Then again, if you are allowed to apply and gain a license without first having the degree, then I’d be more okay with the licensing scheme.

  4. every single licensing regulation should go.

    1. “except the one I care about”
      -everyone ever

  5. Although that does raise the question of why geologists and landscape architects need to be licensed in the first place…

    It’s Florida. You don’t want your lawn designed with no accounting for alligator blind spots or the possibility of random tire tracks.

  6. I saw this on CNN. Too bad everyone in Florida will be dead of coronavirus before the law has taken effect…

    1. Florida Man always finds a way. It’s usually more dangerous than the situation they’re working around, but he always finds a way.

  7. LMFAO. Libertarians for ending occupational licensing. And also for closing down small businesses that interact with the public. And mandatory indefinite national house arrest. And mandatory face masks. And mandatory vaccines. And mandatory contact tracing.

    “We did it boys! Shaniqua can braid hair with a permit just as soon as she’s allowed out of Unit 529 of the public housing project. Free mind and free markets baby! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    1. And also for closing down small businesses that interact with the public. And mandatory indefinite national house arrest. And mandatory face masks. And mandatory vaccines. And mandatory contact tracing.

      Of all the stupid things you’ve said, this is the latest.

      1. unicorn, you made me laugh. in fact i laughed until i stopped

      2. You’d think someone posting here would have a general idea that libertarians don’t support that list of big government nanny items.

        But then, paid trolls aren’t paid to understand what they’re trolling against, because if they understood libertarianism and what they’re being paid to do, they’d likely have a better paying job actually helping people. That’s my theory about Juan.

    2. jaun, did you eat paint chips as a kid? go reread your blatherings…i’m pretty sure you do not know what a libertarian is

  8. What a great step forward past cronyism and an ever growing Government Class. Always a hard to defend concept, if you believed in markets; government professional licensing lost it’s last defense with the advent of online review and reputation tools.

    1. I agree. You’ve highlighted the fact that the free market (online review and reputation tools) does far better than government in protecting us from the incompetent and dishonest.

      I monitor the Nextdoor website for my neighborhood, and usually about once or twice a month, I get a warning about some scamster operating in the neighborhood, stories about how the police didn’t show up, or about the guy camping on someone’s yard.

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  11. If you look back, prior to the GST era, there were 17 different [indirect] taxes, 9-10 different types of cess. Various other taxes were imposed by multiple tiers of government Hindinews — say Octroi, entertainment tax. All these have been merged in one under GST – ‘One Nation, One Tax, One Network’. Every month more than 1 crore tax returns are filed and approximately Rs 1 lakh crore is collected. The entire thing is completely objective, transparent and faceless. This is a major, major tax reform, unprecedented in the world in terms of magnitude.

  12. Shockingly landscape architect I can see why a license might be required. Unlike Geolgists, there isn’t a degree involved (if I’m wrong, throw out the whole argument, no license is needed), so anyone could start it, and like a normal architect their mistakes could cause problems for more than just the property owner who hired them. You build a hill in the wrong place and you could flood the neighbors house in the next storm.

    That said. Probably better covered by liability laws, rather than licensing laws. But in comparison to florists, landscape architects at least make some logical sense.

  13. Way to go Florida!!! I hope my state has or is following suite.

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  17. “Dietitians”. This is ‘Murka.

  18. Most licensing requirements, where the health and safety of the customers is not an issue, are driven by states wanting to generate revenue and the competition wanting to raise barriers to entry to the market. This is a version of the ‘old boys network’ that keeps newcomers out and protects their markets. It ultimately leads to higher prices for the consumers who the politicians are supposed to be working for in the first place.

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  21. This further supports my decision to permanently move from California to Florida.

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