Florida’s Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act revamps occupational licensing provisions
On June 30, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed “The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act” (HB 1193) which eliminates barriers of entry to certain professions licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR) by adding endorsement and reciprocity provisions, removing supplemental business licenses and corresponding license fees, reducing licensure education requirements, and eliminating other licensure and registration requirements.
Although proposed solutions often include government handouts, this bill will create thousands of jobs for Floridians without costing taxpayers a dime. The Legislature did it by requiring fewer government permission slips before Floridians can start a business or even have a job.
The bill will overhaul Florida’s occupational licensing regime. No longer will hair braiders be required to get government permission slips to work. Same for nail technicians, hair wrappers, body wrappers, makeup artists, boxing announcers, and boxing timekeepers. These licenses should never have existed, and just like in many other states, they killed thousands of jobs in Florida. Not anymore.
Auctioneers, barbers, electrical contractors, and geologists will have fewer education requirements, with nutritionists, interior designers, landscape architects, nutritionists, accountants, alarm system installers and boxing announcers seeing some licensing requirements eliminated completely.
The bill allows for reciprocal licensing from different states, a key ask given Florida’s military population includes spouses and dependents who have demonstrated trade skills already.
Military members with experience driving heavy vehicles will no longer be required to obtain redundant training in order to receive a commercial driver’s license. Additionally, the required hours for barber and cosmetology schools will be reduced, and numerous other licenses reformed. Some of the reforms, like the one for barbers, include universal recognition, meaning license-holders from other states can easily obtain the same license in Florida.
The bill also clears the way for food trucks to operate with impunity statewide, eliminating the fights in many jurisdictions the industry has faced. Under the bill, municipalities will be prohibited from imposing the city-wide bans that are all-too-common in Florida. It also stops cities from requiring additional permits or fees once a food truck has a state safety license.
Until now, Florida has been one of only four states to impose an occupational license for interior designers. That will be gone too, replaced by a mere registration requirement for some aspects and complete deregulation for others.
HB 1193 is the largest occupational license deregulation bill in Florida’s history. This law cuts bureaucratic red tape by cutting excessive licensing laws:
- Requires the Department (DBPR) to enter into reciprocal licensing agreements with other states for several professions and get Floridians to work.
- Requires the Department (DBPR) to post on its website the existence of reciprocal license agreements or which jurisdictions have substantially similar licenses with license requirements and examination.
- Provides for certification by endorsement for persons who hold a valid building administrator, inspector, plans examiner, or the equivalent, certification issued by another state or territory of the United States for at least 10 years before the date of application and has successfully passed an applicable examination administered by the International Code Council;
- Adds a category of home inspector licensure by endorsement for applicants who maintain an insurance policy as required by this state and have held a license for at least 10 years in another state or territory.
- Removes examination requirements for landscape architects applying for endorsement, requiring only that they hold a license by another state or U.S. territory.
- Provides licensure by endorsement for electrical and alarm system contractors who have been licensed in another state for at least 10 years.
- Eliminates separate business licenses for architects, geologists, and landscape architects who already hold an individual license in order to remove unnecessary barriers to entry. An architect who is licensed in another state who seeks qualification for license by endorsement must also complete a two-hour class on wind mitigation techniques.
- Reduces the required continuing education hours for renewal of an alarm system contractor license from 14 hours to 7 hours every two years, and from 14 to 11 hours for electrical contractors.
- Removes all provisions relating to the licensure of interior designers, although it allows for certification on an optional basis.
- Deletes the term, “One and two-family dwelling inspector” & replaces it with “Residential inspector” with a new definition, as follows:
“A person who is qualified to inspect and determine that one-family, two-family, or three-family residences not exceeding two habitable stories above no more than one uninhabitable story and accessory use structures in connection therewith one and two-family dwellings and accessory structures are constructed in accordance with the provisions of the governing building, plumbing, mechanical, accessibility, and electrical codes.”
- For a standard certificate holder or licensed fire safety inspector, the experience requirement as an inspector or plans examiner is reduced from 5 years to 4 years.
- Increases the term of provisional licenses from 1 year to 2 years for building code inspectors, plans examiners and building code administrators who meet the eligibility requirements.
- Raises the dollar amounts of the construction licensing exemption for handyman jobs from $1,000 to $2,500.
- The membership of the Florida Building Commission is reduced from 27 members to 19 and changed qualifications for some of the current positions.
It eliminates one member who is a fire protection engineer or the person who is actively engaged in fire protection technology who is actively engaged in the profession; one member who represents the Department of Financial Services; one member who is a county code enforcement official; one mechanical or electrical engineer registered to practice in this state & actively engaged in the profession; one member who is a representative of a municipality or charter county; one member who is a representative of public education; one member who is a representative of the green building industry; and one member who is a representative of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Energy.
The bill also adds the following expanded qualifications:
The architect member must have at least 5 years of experience in the design and construction of buildings designated for Group E or Group I occupancies by the Florida Building Code; adds the option for a mechanical engineer in lieu of an air-conditioning contractor or a mechanical contractor certified to do business in this state and actively engaged in the profession; adds the option for an electrical engineer in lieu of an electrical contractor certified to do business in this state and actively engaged in the profession; adds the Florida Chief Resilience Officer or his or her designee; and specifies that one member shall be the chair.
This bill will reduce expenditures to applicants and license holders by approximately $1,466,318 over the next two fiscal years and reduces expenditures to the state by approximately $58,680 over the next two fiscal years.
For more information, please visit www.myfloridalicense.com.