Florida legislator: occupational licensing is a “barrier to the American Dream”

Florida legislator: occupational licensing is a “barrier to the American Dream”

Future Florida House Speaker, Paul Renner, seems to be declaring war on occupational licensure in his state.

“Occupational licensing is essentially a permission slip for you do what you are passionate about, what you are trained to do, and to provide for your family,” he added. “Think about that: government giving you a permission slip to provide for yourself and your family.”

The problem is that government licensing makes sense for professions such as heart surgeons and bridge builders, he allowed. But Renner contended there has been an explosion of occupational licensing. He focused on barbers, a common poster child profession raised in legislative debates this past spring.

“What it really has become is protectionism. It has become an opportunity for those who have already arrived to close the door of opportunity to those who have not,” Renner said. “And so it is in truth a tax to work and a barrier to the American Dream.”

There are a lot of ways to address occupational licensing reform: paring away at individual licenses as they become obvious; reciprocity and recognition; or (as we did in Nebraska in 2018 with LB299) regular reviews of all licensure while asking both the existing licensing boards to tell the Legislature what they’re doing and asking legislators to consider whether the licenses are truly needed, or whether lesser levels (or no level) of regulation might be effective.

What’s clear to most of us is that occupational licensing is a barrier to the American Dream and that the free market can probably address concerns of consumers in most instances more effectively than regulation.

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