Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · March 12, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla.—With House and Senate passage of the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, job-creating licensing reform is now on its way to Gov. DeSantis. The bill, HB 1193, is the product of a years-long effort to reduce occupational licensing burdens for a number of professions. The Institute for Justice (IJ), a non-profit law firm that represents entrepreneurs in licensed occupations, applauds the passage and looks forward to the Governor’s signature on one of his top legislative priorities this session.

“Today is a great day for Floridians looking for jobs and for people across the country thinking about moving to the Sunshine State,” said IJ Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson. “Our research indicates that this reform could create thousands of jobs. Better still, many of those jobs will be created in the disadvantaged communities where those jobs are needed most. Congratulations to the members of the House and Senate on passing legislation that unlocks opportunity for hard-working Floridians.”

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Waiving the requirements of the Commercial Driver License for military service members with similar training and experience.
  • Exempting all hair braiders (including African-style hair braiders), nail polishers, hair wrappers, body wrappers, makeup artists, boxing announcers and boxing timekeepers from being required to obtain a license.
  • Replacing the interior design license with a registration requirement.
  • Creating universal recognition for barbers licensed in other states.
  • Reducing required educational hours for cosmetology licenses and full barbers’ licenses.
  • Reforming, reducing or narrowing licensing requirements for landscape architects, diet coaches, certain types of construction subcontractors, alarm system installers and geologists.

IJ research on licensing in Florida demonstrated the necessity for reform. The 2018 IJ study “At What Cost?” found that more than one in five 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. All told, because of licensing, the Florida economy may lose $11.6 billion in “misallocated resources” annually.

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.