Study Highlights Florida’s Dirty Dozen: 12 Laws That Limit Options for Job-Seekers and Consumers

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · February 19, 2014

Miami, Fla.—Florida’s lawmakers pass about 300 new regulations every year. But a new study released today by the Institute for Justice (IJ) suggests state legislators should be repealing regulations, not passing new ones. Florida’s Dirty Dozen: Twelve Repealers That Can Boost Business, Create Jobs and Change Florida’s Economic Policy for the Better highlights 12 regulations state legislators can repeal to help entrepreneurs and small businesses. The report features a foreword from Bob McClure, president of The James Madison Institute (JMI), and is available on the IJ and JMI websites.

The report suggests repealing unnecessary occupational licenses, like licenses required for interior design and makeup artistry, which are designed to shut out new competition. For example, Florida is one of only three states, along with the District of Columbia, that licenses interior designers at all. Interior designers must complete a combination of six years of work and education to become licensed in Florida—the most onerous requirements in the nation. The law was passed at the request of already practicing interior designers, who were grandfathered into the license requirements.

“Laws designed to protect industry insiders from competition from new or growing businesses are not only wrong, they’re also unconstitutional,” said Ari Bargil, co-author of the study and an attorney at IJ’s Florida chapter in Miami. “Small businesses create jobs, and the Legislature should not be placing arbitrary barriers in their way.”

The report also features stories from real Florida entrepreneurs and customers who have been negatively affected by overregulation. Legislators can read how the state’s ban on growlers (a reusable 64 ounce container for craft beer) threatens to prevent a growing beer-and-wine store in Gainesville from expanding; or how out-of-state tourists may soon have a hard time using innovative rental websites like AirBnB to find inexpensive lodging options for visits to Florida.

“These 12 laws infringe Floridians’ right to earn an honest living without needing government permission” said Claudia Edenfield, co-author of the study and a lawyer at IJ’s Florida chapter in Miami. “Adding laws to the books is not the only solution for legislators. To help Florida businesses, the government just needs to get out of the way.”

The report suggests removal of these laws by repealer bills. Repealer bills, or simply “repealers,” are used to remove statutes that are outdated, redundant, or otherwise unwanted. Repealers remove text from, and cannot add any text to, the state’s statutes. Importantly, they do not count toward representatives’ six-bill-per-session limit. These bills are traditionally used to remove obsolete laws, but IJ’s study suggests they can also be used to advance business in the state.

“In an array of situations, government-imposed barriers often act as overarching obstacles to career-seekers following their dreams and consumers looking for increased options,” said Dr. Bob McClure, president and CEO of The James Madison Institute. “For many years JMI has battled against the kinds of regulatory overkill marring Florida’s otherwise excellent business climate and quality of life. IJ deserves tremendous credit for conducting the in-depth research required to bring these situations to the immediate attention of Florida lawmakers.”

In this report, IJ has identified a mere 12 of many laws that hurt small businesses in the state. Now it is up to legislators to consider removing these laws and unleashing entrepreneurs from burdensome regulations.