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House, Senate clash on professional deregulation proposal

Here are the professions they could agree to deregulate: hair braiding, body wrapping, rooming houses and outdoor theaters.

That leaves a lot of unfinished business. The Senate does not want to deregulate talent agencies, auctioneers, athlete agents, interior designers, motor vehicle repair shops, yaught and ship brokers, health studios, dance studios, telemarketers, household movers, water vending machine operators and travel agents.

Also, the House was swayed on the Senate's proposal to keep oversight of charitable organizations.

If the Senate had its way, commercial interior designers, athlete agents and telemarketers would continue to need state licenses to practice.

But the House isn't willing to cave on those parts of HB 5005, its professional deregulation bill. At least not now.

The differences surfaced during conference committee negotiations on the bill this week. Rep. Dorothy Hukill and Sen. Alan Hays could not agree on which industries to deregulate, bumping the issue to budget chiefs Sen. JD Alexander and Rep. Denise Grimsley.

"None of these issues have been vetted in the Senate at all, and they're very important issues," said Hays, R-Umatilla. "Without proper committee vetting here, I just think it's uwise to go any further than we went."

The state will lose $6 million if the bill passes in full, according to House staff analysis. The sponsor, Hukill, R-Port Orange, acknowledged the hit but said Thursday night that the bill is meant to help business owners who will not have to pay licensing fees.

"It's a balancing," she said.

Term limits are another problem in winning the Senate over, Hays said, because they create a lack of institutional knowledge among lawmakers.

"Due to term limits, not very many of the current legislators have any idea of the history of these issues. When these regulations were put into effect, what were the reasons for doing so?" he said. "Candidly, my personal thought is we need to do away with term limits."

The interior designer debate has evoked tears and impassioned pleas from both sides during public testimony this session. On Thursday, interior design lobbyists from Washington, D.C., flocked to Tallahassee to defend the state’s licensing requirement, warning deregulation would bring grave consequences for their industry.

“No interior designer will be able to work in a commercial setting,” said Don Davis, American Society of Interior Designers’ director of government affairs.

Joining them was Rep. Charles Van Zant, a Republican architect from Keystone Heights. Van Zant said architects and engineers depend on registered interior designers for their ability to "sign and seal" plans and the "safety and well-being" of spaces.

The pro-deregulation side rebutted Davis' claim, saying more Floridians and businesses would be able to offer the commercial service without Florida's license requirement.

"Cutting bureaucratic tape and reducing regulation increases jobs, not eliminates them," said Sarah Bascom, who represents the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Read more background on this fight in this Times/Herald story and this PolitiFact Florida report.