Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · February 20, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla.—House and Senate committees today approved their versions of the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, bills that would overhaul occupational licensing laws in the state of Florida. The bills, HB 1193 and SB 474, are a top priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has supported licensing reform through administrative action and public statements. All committees reviewing the bills have now recommended passage. The Institute for Justice (IJ), a non-profit law firm that represents entrepreneurs in licensed occupations, applauds the approvals and encourages legislators to continue pushing forward.

“Eliminating unnecessary licenses and reducing the burdens of licensing could unlock jobs for thousands of Floridians,” said IJ Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson. “Florida has the fifth most burdensome licensing laws in the nation, but passage of this reform could drastically improve that standing. While the bills must still pass House and Senate floor votes before it gets to the governor’s desk, the Florida Legislature is on the right track.”

Highlights of the bills include:

  • Waiving the requirements of the Commercial Driver License to military service members with similar training and experience.
  • Exempting all hair braiders (including African-style hair braiders), nail technicians, hair wrappers and body wrappers from having to acquire a license.
  • Recognizing barbers licensed in other states.
  • Reducing required educational hours for cosmetology licenses and full barbers licenses.
  • Changing the interior design license to a voluntary certification.

IJ research demonstrates that Florida could create more economic opportunity through reduced licensing burdens. The 2017 edition of “License to Work” found that Florida has the fifth most burdensome licensing laws in the nation. Florida is one of only four states that license interior designers, currently requiring six years of education and $1,120 in fees. Florida also requires African-style hair braiders to acquire a full cosmetology license, even though most cosmetology schools do not teach braiding.

The 2018 IJ study “At What Cost?” found that more than 1 in 5 Floridians require a license to legally work and estimated that Florida loses nearly 130,000 jobs because of its high licensing burden. A conservative measure of the economic value lost to these regulations totaled nearly $460 million.