Occupational licensing preemption bill heads to Senate floor

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The Piney Point crisis has brought renewed attention to the measure.

The Senate could soon consider a bill to preempt local governments from requiring licenses or fees to perform trades.

The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday gave its approval to the “anti-business, pro-little-guy bill” (SB 268) by Sen. Keith Perry. After passing that panel, the proposal is ready to appear on the Senate floor.

The House passed its version (HB 735), by Williston Republican Rep. Joe Harding, on Thursday but has not yet officially sent it to the Senate.

Local governments could still create “journeyman” requirements. The legislation would also add alarm system specialists to the list of journeymen, which currently includes 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, according to Perry, a Gainesville Republican.

“This is for the little guy that can’t do that, can’t get licenses and everything, maybe wants a side job, maybe wants to have a little business and have their son and daughter work in their business and learn how to run a small little side-job business,” he said.

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

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.

Florida Association of Counties lobbyist Edward Labrador argued counties require occupational licenses for consumer protection by ensuring workers have some level of training, education or experience.

“We’re not trying to deny people access into these occupations,” Labrador said. “We’re trying to make sure that they’re properly experienced to engage in these occupations.”

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes supported the bill but argued local governments should create insurance requirements as an alternate means for consumer protection.

Additionally, the ongoing flooding crisis at the Piney Point phosphate plant has attracted renewed attention to the measure.

Sierra Club Florida Lobbyist David Cullen argued occupational licenses are important for water quality protection. He noted that since 2007, 14 counties and 100 municipalities have created occupational requirements related to water quality.

“Because watersheds are different, it has made every sense to take a watershed by watershed approach to fully consider the unique needs and circumstances of each community,” Cullen said.

The fertilizer industry received a mention from Perry, who noted that the state already has water management districts to regulate the state’s water by hydrological boundaries.

“Water doesn’t go by artificial boundaries that are set up by cities and towns and counties,” Perry said. “We have an issue with fertilizer or other water quality issues in one town, more than likely it’s going to affect the next town, so these are the things that we have a duty and obligation to look at from a statewide standpoint.”

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 [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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