Victory for Louisiana Florists

Institute for Justice · July 12, 2010

Arlington, Va.—Thanks to a bill signed into law today by Governor Jindal, Louisiana florists will no longer find themselves fenced out of the industry by an arbitrary, subjective and antiquated licensing exam in which their own future competitors decide whether they are “good enough” to sell floral arrangements. H.B. 1407, sponsored by Rep. Franklin Foil, abolishes the demonstration portion of the floral licensing exam, while leaving in place (for now) a short written exam that presents no serious obstacle to would-be florists. The bill passed both houses of the Louisiana legislature by wide margins.

The new law comes only months after four Louisiana florists teamed up with the Institute for Justice to file Chauvin v. Strain, a civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s anti-consumer florist licensing scheme.

“H.B 1407 gives aspiring florists and entrepreneurs more freedom to pursue their chosen occupation free from blatantly anti-competitive government interference,” declared Tim Keller, the Institute for Justice’s lead counsel in Chauvin v. Strain. “In light of this new law, and the fact that three of our clients have taken and passed the state’s written examination, we will declare victory and move to voluntarily dismiss our case.”

Before the new law passed, Louisiana required would-be florists to pass both a written test and a highly subjective demonstration examination, in which they were given four hours to create four floral arrangements that were then judged by a panel of state-licensed florists—i.e., their own future competitors. The written test remains on the books for now, but it presents a relatively minor government hoop that people must jump through before they may sell floral arrangements in Louisiana.

“Arranging and selling flowers is a completely harmless occupation,” continued Keller. “Therefore, the Institute for Justice will continue to monitor the state’s written exam to ensure that it remains an insubstantial barrier for would-be florists. If necessary, we are certainly prepared to file a new lawsuit in order to finish the job that H.B. 1407 started by eliminating the practical exam, which has always been the real root of the problem here in Louisiana.”

“There is no need for the government to test or license would-be florists,” Keller concluded. “The only purpose served by the written exam is to raise funds for the state through licensing fees while setting up unnecessary—but in this case fairly trivial —barriers to entrepreneurship. The legislature should take the next step and eliminate the written examination.”

Download the PDF: Blooming Nonsense: Experiment Reveals Louisiana’s Florist Licensing Scheme as Pointless and Anti-Competitive