TALLAHASSEE — A massive bill deregulating everything from auto repair shops to hair braiders has been scaled back in response to complaints from consumer advocates.
As filed, HB 5005 covered nearly 30 professions. As approved in its second committee stop Thursday, it affects 20.
Supporters say the idea is to make it easier for small business owners to set up shop. Regulations, they say, are job killers. Opponents say regulations are about health and safety and giving consumers a way to know if services are being provided by someone properly trained.
Rep. Esteban Bovo, R-Hialeah, the bill's sponsor, said that in recent months he and others have looked at more than 60 professions, and narrowed the list to nearly two dozen that will affect about 106,000 people.
"We have tried to work as transparently as possible and have taken a lot of e-mails and testimony," Bovo said. "I think this will help get Floridians back to work."
Cut from the original 318-page bill: deregulation of barbers, nail specialists, community association managers and surveyors.
Before the 12-6 party-line 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. "Let's just think about this for one second. Motor vehicle repair shops completely deregulated. The men and women going under your car, and you're going to be at some point hurtling down the road at 75 to 80 mph, completely unregulated and taking care of these things. This is simply public safety."
Nearly 60 people signed up to speak on the bill in the House Economic Affairs Committee, with most focused on deregulation of commercial interior designers and some giving intensely emotional testimony. Florida is one of only three states that requires a license to practice the profession.
Unlicensed designers eager to expand their business accuse currently registered designers of being a "cartel" that monopolizes the market.
"We found this law to be one of the most egregious examples we have found of an industry using regulation to limit competition," said Allen Douglas, legislative affairs director for the Florida Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Others said interior designers possess special skills learned through years of training.
Jaclyn Szerdy, a 20-year-old University of Florida interior design student, broke down while addressing the committee.
"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 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, offered an amendment to cut interior designers out of the bill, but it failed. So did an attempt by Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, to remove the section regarding hair braiders and body wrappers.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-7263.
Many states regulate commercial interior design, but Florida is one of only three states that requires a license to practice the profession. A an earlier version of this story was incorrect.