FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

One bill would implement statewide “global licensing,” one would “sunset” all occupational licenses periodically pending legislative review, and another would bind them all in removing “unnecessary, burdensome regulations and barriers” in securing occupational licenses.

Those are among highlights outlined by Gov. Ron DeSantis in announcing his 2020 occupational licensing reform objectives.

“There are many reasons Florida is a great place to find meaningful work, but there is always more we can do to get government out of the way and increase opportunity,” DeSantis said during a Miami appearance Tuesday with Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Halsey Beshears and future House Speaker Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast.

Nearly 30 percent of Florida’s workforce is employed under occupational license requirements imposed by 23 professional licensing boards – the highest percentage of state-regulated workers in the South and fourth highest in the nation.

DeSantis made it clear that occupational license reform would be an administration emphasis when he appointed “champion of deregulation,” Panhandle Republican Rep. Halsey Beshears, to lead the DBPR in his first month in office and then staged the state’s first-ever “Deregathon” the next month.

A slate of occupational licensing bills were introduced during the 2019 session but all stalled, including a 120-page companion House-Senate bill that would have loosened or eliminated occupational licensing requirements across-the-board. Neither emerged for floor votes from committees.

Another deregulation bill, House Bill 3, would have restricted local governments’ authority to impose regulations on businesses, and preempted them from creating their own occupational and professional licensing requirements.

Under HB 3, all existing local business regulations and occupational licensing would automatically expire in 2021 and require an economic impact analysis to be re-adopted.

HB 3 passed the House 88-24 but was never heard by a Senate committee.

During 2019 legislative session hearings on HB 3 and other deregulation bills, proponents argued deregulation would make it easier for Floridians to find careers by trimming back licensing requirements for barbers, auctioneers, landscape architects, hotel interior designers, “princess party” practitioners and many other professions.

Opponents, which included the Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the Florida Auctioneers Association (FAA) and the Florida Association of Cosmetologists & Trade Schools (FACTS), cited concerns over consumer protections, workplace safety and the sheer size of the bills.

In his announcement, DeSantis said he was seeking a “comprehensive bill to limit or remove unnecessary occupational licensing requirements for professions that require licensure from DBPR.”

This measure “will include a provision that prohibits DBPR and any board under DBPR’s jurisdiction from disciplining a current licensee and preventing a prospective licensee based solely on the licensee’s defaulting or becoming delinquent on a federal or state-guaranteed student loan or scholarship obligation,” DeSantis’ legislative agenda reads.

The governor also will support a “global licensing” bill to allow an individual’s occupational license in one Florida county to be valid in all Florida counties.

Such a bill “will allow more Floridians to more freely conduct their business in multiple counties without having to go through duplicative and burdensome licensing requirements,” the Governor’s Office said.

DeSantis also called for lawmakers to adopt legislation to “sunset” all occupational licenses and “require the Florida Legislature to decide on a regular basis to reauthorize or remove each license” and “ensure that the Legislature considers whether each license is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of Floridians.”

“The proposals I’ve announced today will build on our efforts to remove unnecessary, burdensome regulations and barriers for Floridians looking to pursue their dreams,” DeSantis said. “I look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature to get these reforms across the finish line and I am excited about what we can accomplish to increase opportunities for Floridians.”