Florida’s Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act will reduce or eliminate licensing requirements for multiple professions

In a positive turn of events, the state of Florida has passed a law that makes it easier for some professionals to do their jobs. The law, which is called the occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, effectively reduces or eliminates licensing requirements for multiple professions. This is one of the biggest licensing reforms ever undertaken by any state and it will go a long way in reducing unemployment and increasing entrepreneurship in the state.

The Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act

Through the newly instated rule, the state of Florida will no longer require licenses for jobs like “interior designers, labor representatives, boxing announcers and timekeepers, hair braiders, hair wrappers, body wrappers, nail polishers and painters and makeup applicators”.

The new Act also “allows workers in some professions to easily transfer their out-of-state licenses to Florida and cuts down on the training required to receive or renew a license.”

The following are some of the provisions of the new law.

  • Landscape architects will not be required to take a Florida exam if they have an out-of-state license.
  • Electrical and alarm system contractors can get licenses without an exam if they have been licensed in another state for at least 10 years.
  • A second license is no longer required for architects, geologists, and landscape architects who already hold an individual license.
  • Yacht and shipbrokers will have to maintain only one license tied to their principal place of business and will no longer need additional licenses for each branch office.
  • Continuing education is no longer required for certified public accountants.
  • The required number of training hours for barbers is decreasing from 1200 to 900. The 900 hours must be in sanitation, safety, and laws and rules. Program certification requirements are reduced from 1,000 to 600 hours.*
  • The required hours for a nail specialist have fallen from 240 to 180 hours, facial specialists 260 to 220 hours, and full specialists 500 to 400 hours.
  • The required continuing education to renew an alarm system contractor license has dropped from 14 to 11 hours.
  • All licensure requirements for interior designers have been removed, although they can seek an optional certification.
  • Cosmetologists or specialists performing services in connection with a special event will no longer be required to be employed by a licensed salon or be required to make an appointment for a special event through a licensed salon.
  • Properly licensed individuals can offer hair shampooing, hair cutting, hair arranging, nail polish removal, nail filing, nail buffing, and nail cleansing services outside of a licensed salon.

Heavy opposition from industry experts

However, this is not good news to everyone’s ears. Some industry experts are worried that the move will reduce quality and safety. This is not a surprising argument. A lot of industry experts use quality and safety as a reason to call for more regulation. But their intention is usually to reduce competition.

The idea that industry experts push for licenses as a way to limit competition is supported by the sheer lack of evidence that occupational licensing improves quality. Quite to the contrary, a lot of evidence exists showing that customers care more about ratings and prices, than they do about licensing status.

A good example is an NBER paper that shows that occupational licensing plays no role in consumer satisfaction. Brynjolfsson, Farronato, Fradkin, and Larsen use data from an online labor market where people can hire home improvement professionals to see whether licensing status has an effect on consumer choice. They find licensing status has no effect on consumer choice, but;

more stringent licensing regulations are associated with less competition and higher prices but not with any improvement in customer satisfaction as measured by review ratings or the propensity to use the platform again.

This will benefit workers and employers

For one, this new change will help people save time and money. Applying for licenses cost people a lot of money and time, and so does training.

The changes will save state workers about $1.3 million in license fees, officials said. They said the changes will help Florida improve from being the fourthmost stringent state for licensing requirements, according to a recent study by the Institute for Justice, a conservative legal organization based in Arlington, Va.

Moreover, the economic shutdown has hurt the economy and a lot of workers. Relaxing restrictive regulations that do not need to exist is one way that states can help their economies heal. By removing existing onerous regulations, states will ensure an expanded range of opportunities for workers as they explore the job market.  And by relaxing licensing requirements, states will improve the rate of business formation through increased entrepreneurship.