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Legislation proposing sunset review of all occupational licenses clears first House committee

Renner said health and safety are the core reasons the government issue licenses.

State lawmakers could repeal many occupational licenses over the next four years under legislation (HB 707) approved in the House Commerce Committee this week.

Under the bill, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Paul Renner, all occupational licenses would be examined and decisions made about which licenses should be kept, changed or allowed to sunset.

Renner said the core reason that governments require professional licenses to is make sure that people in certain industries like medicine or highway, road and bridge construction know what they’re doing.

“So we will, in all cases, always want to license people who operate on our hearts or who design the bridges that we drive over,” he said. “Because if they get it wrong, someone could die, someone could get seriously hurt.”

Renner said his bill is needed because the legislature hasn’t done a comprehensive sunset review of licenses for 20 years or more. Lawmakers will have to take affirmative action to keep a license from expiring. 

Phillip Suderman with Americans for Prosperity said his group supports the bill.

“Florida on average requires $318 in fees and 693 days of education and experience for an occupational license,” he said. “These fees and training requirements don’t just hurt the individual, but also the Florida economy as a whole.”

But Joe Anne Hart with the Florida Dental Association said they’re worried that repealing occupational licenses will undermine public confidence in certain industries.

“In the case of the dental statute being scheduled for repeal, we’re concerned with potential unintended consequences,” she said. 

If passed, the bill would schedule the first batch of reviews for July, 1 2021 and on that date each year after through 2024. Occupations looked at in 2021 include court reporters, auctioneers and paramedics. The next year licenses under review would include funeral directors, home inspectors and acupuncturists. Lawmakers plan to review occupations like firefighters and certified public accountants in 2023 and registered nurses, pharmacists and dentists in 2024.

Renner’s bill passed with only Democratic State Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee voting no. It now heads to the Health and Human Services Committee. A Senate companion bill sponsored by Education Committee chairman Manny Diaz has been referred to the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee.

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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