Regulatory review is a hot-button issue this legislative session, and business groups were all over it today at a meeting of the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee. "It's very important that we get the government off the backs of our small businesses. They're ready to hire," Allen Douglas, of the National Federation of Independent Business told the group.
As an example, Douglas singled out licensing requirements for commercial interior designers. Florida is one of only three states in the country that requires a license for interior designers. It requires a college degree, three years of experience and a test that has only a 30 percent pass rate, he said. Defenders of the license will say it's a health and safety issue, because, for example, an inexperienced designer might place furniture in a way that blocks fire exists. But Douglas said that's the purview of fire inspectors. "They cannot point to one instance in Florida where anyone has been hurt because of the actions of an interior designer," Douglas said. "And yet the state continues to defend this law and spend money to do so." (A law suit challenging in the regulation is in federal appeals court.)
Jose Gonzalez of Associated Industries of Florida highlighted county rules that prohibit application of fertilizers during the rainy season. Those regulations have been passed in recent years at the urging of environmental groups that say run-off from the applications pollute surface water. But Gonzalez said the industry wants the state to pre-empt the local laws in favor of less restrictive state guidelines to maintain sales of fertilizer and pest control products. Gonzalez also advocated for eliminating rules that require only allow parimutuels to operate card rooms if they also offer live racing.
Committee chairman Rep. Esteban Bovo, R-Hialeah provided members with a list of industries regulated by Florida and compared to other states. Among the highlights: Florida is one of only 15 states that regulates auctioneer apprentices; one of 11 states that regulates dance studios; one of eight states that regulates health studies; one of 13 states that regulates travel agents; and one of six states that regulates talent agents.
Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, said in reviewing regulations it's critical to determine which are necessary and which stifle businesses.
"Once these regulations are on the books, they are very difficult to get rid of. We need to tread carefully," she said. "This year, we may be able to do just that and get rid of regulations that don't make sense."