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Senate professional deregulation bill clears another committee

“We’re just trying to figure out how to thread the needle and accomplish the goal.”

Legislation to deregulate scores of professions in Florida moved through another Senate panel Monday after the bill sponsor restored seats to the Florida Building Commission.

The Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously OK’d the bill (SB 1640), carried by Republican state Sen. Ben Albritton of Wauchula. It heads next to Appropriations, its last committee stop.

Both Albritton’s version and the House companion (HB 27) originally shrunk the Building Commission’s membership from 27 to 19. It’s the “technical body responsible for the development, maintenance and interpretation of the Florida Building Code.”

As of Monday, Albritton added back, for instance, a “member who is a representative of the green building industry” but still left deleted “a representative of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesOffice of Energy.” A request for comment to the department is pending.

Representatives of commercial real estate and green building concerns told lawmakers they opposed any reduction in commission membership — and thus any accompanying reduction in its experience and expertise.

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After the hearing, Albritton said the commission membership reduction idea came from the House. That bill cleared all its committees and is ready for the floor.

“As we’re looking at deregulation that also includes lowering costs,” Albritton said. “So the idea was, if we could find a good balance on the building commission and they can still accomplish the goals (they) need to accomplish and do it for less — fewer people having to travel, having to be a participant — then that’s great. That’s just good government.”

Albritton added that he and House sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, are still working to find the right balance of membership for the Building Commission.

“I don’t know what the answer to that is yet,” Albritton said. “… This has been a work in progress and if you go back and track all the changes and what we’ve accomplished, all of that has been based on input from stakeholders.

“We had heard that the green building industry had real concerns and we put them back in. We’re just trying to figure out how to thread the needle and accomplish the goal.”

The legislation otherwise would eliminate or reduce regulations on a variety of professions. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he believes Florida over-regulates professions, protecting some professionals from competition and limiting others who wish to join a trade.

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