Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · June 21, 2019

Tallahassee, Fla.—The hours of training necessary to earn a living as a barber would be decreased under a proposed regulation issued today by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The proposal eliminates 700 hours of unnecessary training to obtain a restricted barber license (the license used by many barbers) by reducing the pre-test requirement from 1,200 to 500 hours. It would also allow some applicants to ask the Florida Barbers’ Board for permission to take the test after 300 hours.

The Institute for Justice (IJ), which advocates for reduced barriers to low-income occupations, found that Florida had the 5th most burdensome licensing laws in the nation. According to IJ’s 2017 report License to Work, licenses in Florida require on average 693 days of education and experience.

Those burdens add up. A separate IJ study found that occupational licensing costs the state nearly 130,000 jobs and almost $11.6 billion in “misallocated resources.”

“Although incremental, we applaud this positive step,” said IJ Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson, who testified in support of licensing reform during the past legislative session. “Bipartisan studies show that these licenses do nothing to protect safety or quality. Instead, they harm consumers, kill jobs and increase recidivism. These licenses should not exist at all, and any reduction to these barriers should be celebrated. We also call on the Florida Legislature next session to finally pass the broader reform that made it out of committee last session.”

In addition to reducing the barriers themselves, Florida is also in the process of making it easier for inmates to obtain occupational licenses (including barber licenses) while incarcerated, thereby allowing them to be gainfully employed upon release. This reform was included in Florida House Bill 7125, which passed the Florida Legislature this past session and is expected to be signed by Governor DeSantis this summer. Pearson also testified in support of this reform last session, explaining that “when you take away someone’s ability to earn a lawful living, the chance that they will be forced to turn to other ways to support themselves increases.”

In recent years, there has been broad bipartisan support for occupational licensing reform with the Obama administration releasing a major report calling for reform in 2015 and President Trump signing legislation encouraging reform in 2018.