Occupational licensing bill cleared for House floor; Senate version passes first test
Joe Harding's abrupt exit means the House is scrambling to fill his committee assignments.

Lawmakers say it's another way for local governments to unfairly generate extra revenue.

Lawmakers continued advancing a bill that would preempt local governments from requiring licenses or fees to perform trades the state does not.

The House Commerce Committee gave Rep. Joe Harding‘s version (HB 735) its final necessary approval before it hits the House floor. Meanwhile, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee got the ball rolling for Sen. Keith Perry‘s proposal (SB 268).

Local governments could continue “journeyman” requirements. The legislation would also add alarm system specialists to the list of journeymen, including plumbers, pipe fitters, mechanical workers and electrical workers.

The proposal would end new regulations, but local governments could keep existing occupational requirements until July 2023.

Fees and licenses sometimes cost up to $200, Perry, a Gainesville Republican, told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

“There’s no test requirements to become a pressure washer. There’s no certifications in that, no training requirements, no apprenticeship programs,” Perry said. “All it is is saying: hey, if you want to do this, come here, fill out this paper, pay your $200 and go on your way.”

Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper likened some licenses without tests and training to a “business registration tax.” Harding on the House front called additional licenses and fees “questionable or alternative revenue sources” for local governments.

The bills are receiving criticism from counties, cities and supporting organizations because of those restrictions on local governments when it comes to occupational licenses.

Aventura Democratic Rep. Joe Geller, a former North Bay Village Mayor, gave voice to local governments facing state preemptions by arguing that it is a local government’s right to add regulations.

“There’s this notion that local government is just in the way and doesn’t know what they’re doing, and it’s a wrong notion,” he said. “The same people who show the wisdom to send you and all of us here are the same people who elect local government officials.”

Among the groups supporting the bill are the Florida Institute of Justice and Americans for Prosperity. Meanwhile, the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities oppose it.

Perry and Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo said they received letters from counties that misstated the bill’s intent.

“I got a letter from a county too, but the letter addressed issues that are not in this bill,” Perry said. “I’m not sure if there’s some misinformation out there or not.”

Ultimately, he said his bill is “for the little guy.”

“This is not about the professional class. This is not about CPAs or contractors,” Perry continued. “This is about the guy or the lady who wants to say I want to do something to earn a little extra money, start a little side business that the state has not deemed that there is a necessary risk to the general public that we should take charge of this issue.”

Harding’s version is ready for the House floor after a 16-5 vote that drew only Democrats in opposition. Perry’s version next heads to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, its second of three committee stops.

If signed into law, the legislation would take effect in July.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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