Florida lawmakers push deregulation once again

More than 400,000 barbers, cosmetologists, landscapers, interior designers, talent agents and other professionals are regulated by the state of Florida.
More than 400,000 barbers, cosmetologists, landscapers, interior designers, talent agents and other professionals are regulated by the state of Florida. (Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More than 400,000 barbers, cosmetologists, landscapers, interior designers, talent agents and other professionals are regulated by the state of Florida.

New legislation would sunset or abolish the regulations unless the licensing boards can prove the licensing is needed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis pitched lawmakers on the idea of deregulating more than two dozen professions.

“You can earn jump wings by completing Army jump school in three weeks. Florida law requires 1,200 hours to become licensed as a barber,” DeSantis said during his 2019 State of the State speech.

The legislation would have cut training for licensed barbers, among others, in half. It was one of the few things the first-year chief executive didn’t get from lawmakers. One reason is barbers like Ben Collins.

“I probably needed that 1,200,” Collins said. "I had to know what I was doing. I had to be trained to know what I was doing.”

Now, new legislation would abolish all regulation over the next two years and require professional boards to prove they should be regulated. The effort is being saluted by Americans for Prosperity.

“It’s not just about any one license. It’s about the overall idea of taking away occupational licensing to allow hardworking Floridians to find meaningful work,” said Phillip Suderman, with Americans for Prosperity.

Barber Chuck Richards believes there could be fewer hours, but he said the classroom work was essential.

“We go into great depth learning how to detect different kinds of skin cancer,” Richards said.

Last year, lawmakers underestimated the outcry from thousands of barbers, cosmetologists and other professionals. They’re likely to get another earful this year.

The job facing lawmakers is to decide where and when regulation protects consumers and not those doing the work.

The legislation uses nearly six of its 12 pages to list the specific statutes that it would abolish, which amounts to several hundred boards and professions.