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Omnibus Preemption Bill Shifts Local Licensing Of Businesses To State

Here comes that word again.  Pre-emption.

Republican legislators in recent years have sought to expand their power at the expense of cities, counties and other local governments, on everything from guns to fireworks to vegetable gardens. Now a controversial proposal gaining steam in Tallahassee would eliminate local oversight and regulation of businesses without state approval.

For example, local house painters would no longer have to buy a city or county license to do business. There would be no more local licensing of barber shops, child care centers, tattoo parlors or taxicab under House Bill 3. 

“Basically HB3 is about helping new workers find new opportunities to work by eliminating constraints that are imposed on them by local governments, said Rep. Mike Grant (R-Port Charlotte), the bill’s sponsor.

Grant's bill sped through the pro-business, conservative House last year by a vote of 80 to 44 and stalled in the more moderate Senate, despite the support of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. In his state of the state address on the opening day of session, DeSantis said “our citizens shouldn’t need a permission slip from the government in order to earn a living.”

But critics of this case of pre-emption warn that it would strip away needed consumer protections and result in a less-skilled work force in a state that already has an acute shortage of skilled workers.

“Communities deserve to have a say in how business is conducted in their backyard. This bill takes away the authority of those communities to do that,” said the AFL-CIO’s Rich Templin. “As we hear in this body all the time, big government, one-size solutions don’t work. This is a big government, one-size-fits-all solution.

The cost of a license is not supposed to exceed the actual cost of regulation. But a ban on local occupational licenses would eliminate an important source of revenue for cities and counties. Local governments know they can't stop this bill in the House, so their political efforts will quickly shift to the Senate.