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Senate panel advances Ben Albritton deregulation package

Tuesday’s meeting saw several amendments added, including one dealing with food truck operators.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously signed off on legislation to reduce or completely cut licensing requirements for numerous professions in the state Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Ben Albritton of Bartow is backing the bill (SB 474). The five-member Senate panel became the second to move the measure forward. The Senate Committee on Innovation, Industry, and Technology advanced the measure in January.

Rep. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill is sponsoring a companion bill in the House (HB 1193).

Those opposed to excessive licenses argue they are a burden for otherwise competent individuals looking to enter the workforce.

Albritton’s bill would cut education requirements for auctioneers, barbers and geologists looking to be licensed by the state. Nutritionists and boxing announcers would have licensing requirements axed entirely.

Tuesday’s meeting saw Albritton add several small amendments to the bill.

One such amendment stemmed from a discussion between him and Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer at the previous committee stop. Both agreed during that discussion that local food trucks should not be required to seek a license from a local municipality.

Albritton explained the amendment Tuesday.

“A municipality, county or other local government can still govern things as it relates to food trucks, like location, hours of operation, noise requirements and the like,” Albritton said.

“But it does preempt them to impose additional licensing, permitting or fee requirements for them. And we felt like that was a nice brokerage with our local municipalities and counties to find balance.”

Jeff Branch of the Florida League of Cities opposed the amendment due to concerns it would undercut localities’ ability to respond to violations.

“It is crucial that local governments know who’s operating in their cities,” Branch said.

But Albritton countered, noting those individuals would still be registered with the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

“If they’re registered and licensed with DBPR, it is available. We know who those people are. They have things they have to fill out when they provide that registration. And an extra fee at the local level is not going to stop someone who is going to be a bad [actor.]”

The committee approved the amendment.

Republicans have long pushed for licensing reform. That includes a similar measure Albritton backed last year, which ultimately failed.

In October, Gov. Ron DeSantis released his own occupational licensing reform agenda. That proposal called for legislation removing unnecessary licenses, a sunset of existing licenses, and a push for “global licenses” that would allow individuals licensed in one county to perform similar work in another.

DeSantis has advocated for licensing reform dating back to his first days in office. In January  2019, he held a “Deregathon” workshop in Orlando, pushing for ideas to revamp Florida’s system.

Some Democrats support reform as well. Former President Barack Obama detailed the harm of excessive occupational licensing during his time in office.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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