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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Massive bill deregulating 20 professions moves through House



Tears and pleas from college students to continue regulating interior designers got nowhere Wednesday. The House Economic Affairs committee moved along a bill that deregulates interior designers along with 19 other professions, including body wrappers, dance studios, hair braiders, health studios and auto repair shops. The bill passed by a party-line, 12 to 6 vote. 

Rep. Esteban Bovo, R-Hialeah, the sponsor of HB5005, said that in recent months he and others have looked at more than 60 different professions and narrowed the final list down to 20 that will affect about 106,000 people and save the state $13 million a year.

"We have tried to work as transparently as possible and have taken a lot of e-mails and testimony," he said. "I think this will help get Floridians back to work."

Supporters say the idea is to end "job-killing regulations" to make it easier for small business owners to set up shop. They argue many of the rules exist merely to limit new competition. Opponents say the regulations are about health and safety and giving consumers a way to know if services are being provided by someone properly trained.

Nearly 60 people signed up to speak on the issue, including an auctioneer and a talent agent, who spoke against the bill. But most of the speakers, some giving intensely emotional testimony, spoke to fight the deregulation of commercial interior designers.

Florida is one of only three states that regulate that profession. Backers of regulation says it's necessary because  interior designers possess special skills that they learn through years of training. Dozens of young interior design students from the University of Florida testified Thursday, saying they believe the bill will leave them after graduation with student debt and few job prospects. Their training, they say, prepares them to prevent illness and death by making sure fire exits are open and that rooms are finished with flame retardant paints and disease resistant fabrics.

Jaclyn Szerdy, a 20-year-old University of Florida junior, broke down while testifying. 

"To watch this taken away would be devastating," she said through tears. "Not only to me but to all the interior designers and to the the lives of those who occupy these spaces. I passionately urge you and other representatives to please oppose this bill."

Rep. James Waldman, D-Coconut Creek proposed an amendment to cut interior designers out of the bill, but if failed. So did an attempt by Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, to remove the section regarding hair braiders and body wrappers.

Before the vote, Evan Jenne, D-Fort Lauderdale, cautioned the panel to take a closer look at whether they really want to deregulate gyms, athlete agents, auto repair shops, and intrastate movers.

"We're talking about people that are going to load all your worldly positions up and send them across state lines with, completely unregulated," he said.

The bill, which has one more committee stop, affects the following professions: Athlete agents, auctioneers, auctioneer apprentices,  body wrappers, business opportunities, charitable organizations, dance studios, hair braiders, hair wrappers, health studios, interior designers, intrastate movers, motor vehicle repair shops, rooming houses, sellers of travel, talent agents, telemarkerting, yacht and ship brokers, water vending machines, television tube labetling and sales representative contracts.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 1:55pm]


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