MIAMI—Late last week, the Charlotte County Sheriff issued a release touting the arrest of a Louisiana-licensed roofing contractor who had agreed to replace the roof of a home damaged in Hurricane Ian. The Charlotte County Sheriff and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation have publicly stated that the arrest was prompted by a DBPR investigation. According to a further report, the contractor thought that the state had lowered barriers to out-of-state contractors and claimed that he reached out to state authorities. The Institute for Justice (IJ) supports alternatives to licensing that would help Floridians quickly recover from one of the most devastating storms to hit the state.
“The Department of Business and Professional Regulation does not appear to realize that it is the bad guy here,” said IJ Florida Managing Attorney Justin Pearson. “When safe, successful businesses come to Florida to help with the recovery after a hurricane, the last thing DBPR should want is for the workers to be arrested and charged with a felony.”
The arrest is even more troubling because DBPR is ignoring the lessons learned from Florida’s past experiences with hurricanes. For example, after Hurricane Frances in 2004, a study examining Florida’s response found that Florida’s decision to allow roofers from other states accelerated Florida’s recovery.
“DBPR is punishing people for trying to help the same way that they helped after past hurricanes,” Pearson continued. “In the process, DBPR is slowing down Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Ian and is making the Sunshine State less safe.”