Experiment Exposes Louisiana’s Pointless and Anti-Competitive Florist Licensing Scheme

April 6, 2010

Backers of Louisiana’s florist licensing scheme claim it is essential to maintaining professional standards and providing consumers with high-quality floral arrangements. But is that true?

To find out, Dr. Dick Carpenter, IJ director of strategic research, asked Louisiana-licensed florists and unlicensed florists from across the border in Texas to judge a random line-up of floral arrangements—25 from regulated Louisiana and 25 from unregulated Texas.

The result?

Not even the licensed Louisiana florists found any difference in quality that could be attributed to licensure. As reported in Blooming Nonsense: Experiment Reveals Louisiana’s Florist Licensing Scheme as Pointless and Anti-Competitive, the judges rated the Louisiana and Texas arrangements essentially the same.

In focus groups, almost all of the judges—including those licensed by Louisiana—expected no difference in the quality of arrangements because of Louisiana’s licensing law. Many thought that instead of producing quality florists, the licensing scheme served two purposes: raising money for the state through testing and license fees and shutting out competition. And florists scoffed at the idea that licensing is necessary to protect the public. As one Louisiana florist concluded, “You can’t really hurt anybody with a flower.”

In short, the experiment suggests that Louisiana’s licensing scheme does nothing but protect existing license holders from fair competition.

Blooming Nonsense will be a critical part of IJ’s strategy to fight the florist-licensing scheme in court and in the court of public opinion. The report, available at www.ij.org/BloomingNonsense, was released the day IJ filed suit and has already garnered media attention as part of a feature on the florist licensing scheme on Fox Business’ Stossel show.

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