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Double the Freedom, Double the Fun: For Second Straight Year, Florida Sets the Standard In Economic Liberty Reforms

In 2020, Florida enacted IJ’s historic overhaul of the Sunshine State’s occupational licensing barriers. It turns out that the Florida Legislature was just getting warmed up—and IJ was happy to help every step of the way.

This spring, Florida lawmakers passed 10 different economic liberty bills actively supported by the Institute for Justice. Sometimes, we even wrote them.

The IJ-backed bills targeted a wide range of industries. To make life easier for home-baking businesses, Florida’s cottage food reform raises the state’s annual revenue cap, overrides local red tape, allows business partnerships to form, and legalizes shipping cottage foods. (For more good news on food freedom, see here.) For alcohol sales, restaurants with full liquor licenses can sell cocktails to go, while craft distillers saw their production limits rise from 75,000 to 250,000 gallons.

Other reforms provided regulatory relief through greater flexibility. Barbers can now cut hair outside of barbershops. Volunteer ambulance services no longer need a certificate of need. And alarm system contractors can start installing systems while their permit applications are pending.

Florida’s latest slate of reforms also reined in protectionist local governments run amok. A new home-based business reform says that if you are not bothering anyone by working from home, then local governments must leave you alone. Another reform bans local governments from imposing licenses on a long list of occupations. After all, a job safe in one town does not suddenly become dangerous the next town over. Finally, a new law will speed up the permitting process by requiring local governments to refund part of a would-be worker’s application fee if they take too long.

Together, these reforms hammer home the principle that consumers, not the government, should pick winners and losers in the marketplace. For the second straight year, the Florida Legislature has expanded economic freedom and opportunity for the state’s residents.

Justin Pearson is managing attorney of IJ’s Florida office.

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