Phillip Suderman · May 30, 2024

ARLINGTON, Va.—Yesterday, the Louisiana State Legislature passed HB 933, a bill that eliminates the state’s florist licensing and testing requirements and would require only an operating permit to sell or arrange flowers. Louisiana is the only state that makes it illegal to create and sell floral arrangements without first passing a written exam and obtaining a state license. The deregulation bill passed both chambers with large margins and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

For several years the Institute for Justice (“IJ”) has led the way for licensure reform across the nation. In Louisiana, IJ long targeted the state’s restrictive florist license because it imposes an unconstitutional barrier to entry that fences out aspiring florists while providing the public with nothing in return. Under state law, only licensed florists can legally arrange or supervise the arrangement of floral designs for sale, including retail floral designs, cut flowers, and ornamental plants in pots.

“People have a constitutional right to earn a living free from unreasonable government interference,” said IJ Managing Attorney Arif Panju. “No one should have to pass a test and get the government’s permission before selling flowers for a living, and if HB 933 is signed into law they won’t need to.”

Through open records requests, the Institute for Justice discovered that Louisiana’s Horticulture Commission puts people out of work by aggressively enforcing the state’s florist license and exam restrictions. Those fenced out from earning a living selling flowers include a small grocer whose floral arrangement business was forced to shut down for not employing a licensed florist, an aspiring florist who was ordered to cease and desist from selling floral arrangements on Facebook, and a farmer who grew flowers to sell at a farmers’ market but was unable to do so because she wasn’t a licensed florist.

The licensing exam proved difficult for those who attempted it. A young mother living in Shreveport failed the test and is currently unable to work as a florist. The exam also fenced out another aspiring florist who operates a store and would like to sell arranged flowers but is unable to do so. In Baton Rouge, yet another aspiring florist works for a florist shop but cannot open her own floral business because she has yet to pass the state’s restrictive florist exam. She sells silk flowers but cannot sell real ones for fear of violating state law. The passage of HB 933 would remove the barrier to entry each faced.

The Institute for Justice asked lawmakers in April to repeal the florist license and examination restrictions. IJ attorney Betsy Sanz testified before a House committee and explained that “arranging flowers presents no risk of harm to public health, safety, or welfare,” and addressed how the current restrictions are hurting people.

IJ has also previously sued the state in federal court over its florist licensure regime—leading to the elimination of a practical exam that the state imposed on people that had passed the written exam. Under that since-repealed restriction, aspiring florists were required to pass a subjective floral arrangement exam that was judged by their future competition: licensed florists. After litigating two separate cases on behalf of aspiring florists, IJ successfully eliminated that hurdle. However, IJ warned that it would continue to monitor the effect of the state’s written exam requirement.

If HB 933 were signed into law, that written exam would no longer be required, and anyone would be free to earn a living selling flowers after paying a permit fee of between $70 and $100.

The Institute for Justice

The Institute for Justice is the national law firm for liberty. Since 1991, IJ has been protecting the right to earn an honest living by pushing back on burdensome occupational licensing.

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To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may contact Phillip Suderman, IJ’s Communications Project Manager, at [email protected] or (850) 376-4110. More information on IJ’s work on occupational licensure is available at: