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Occupational Licensing Preemption Bill Teed Up For House Vote, But Dems Have Questions

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Rep. Michael Grant’s bill allowing the state to usurp local governments on licensing for certain jobs is heading to a vote by the full House. Meanwhile, Democrats in the chamber are taking a fine-tooth comb to the measure.

The bill is dubbed ‘preemption of occupational licensing.’

“HB 3 is a bill to ensure uniformity in occupational licenses across the state,” Grant explained during Wednesday’s floor session. “The bill clearly and simply prohibits local licensing of occupations unless general law authorizes local licensing and that is the bill.”

Some state agencies and licensing boards regulate occupational licensing for some jobs – and Rep. Michael Grant’s bill would have those entities be the final say. Democratic lawmakers want to know to what extent the state will override local governments on licensure.

Rep. Joe Geller asked for specifics:

“Is there some way that you could tell us everything that would be preempted here, or does such a list exist?”

Grant says no such list exists – as different licensure regulations vary from county to county.

“No, I don’t think I could give you a list of everything that would be preempted,” Grant answered, “because there are 67 counties and how many other municipalities and jurisdictions, that would have local ordinance on any sorts of regulations.”

Rep. Margaret Good wanted to know, based on the type of occupation, who would be affected:

“Is this affecting everyone from hair dressers to contractors,” Good asked. “What’s the scope of this bill?”

The Port Charlotte Republican did have an answer for that.

“It only impacts those occupations that are currently being licensed at the local level that are not authorized at the state level,” Grant said.

Grant did get specific, and gave plenty of examples, about what isn’t affected by his proposal.

“Let me give you some examples of what the bill does not do. It does not impact zoning ordinances, land development agreements, local business taxes, building permit fees, impact fees, franchise fees, inspection fees, storm water fees,” Grant told his colleagues.

Not every community will have the same concerns, and reasons for regulating who can work in what profession. Good used the example of particular local licensing regulations that ensure workers know how much, and what types of fertilizers can be used in occupations like landscaping.

“And there’s many local governments, especially along our coast, that have implemented those kinds of licensure requirements,” the Sarasota Democrat said. “Would this bill preempt that kind of licensure?”

Grant’s answer indicates if a local government does find problems with a particular license being preempted, the onus is on them to bring those concerns back to the legislature.

“First of all, there’s a two-year grandfather clause, so any licensing that is done at the local level now will be okay for the next two years,” Grant explained. “And in that time period, if there is a reason that a local occupational license should be continued, I would suggest that those local governments come here through their representatives and file that bill.”

A similar bill in the Senate, backed by Republican Keith Perry, has stalled. It was temporarily postponed ahead of its second committee hearing.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.