TALLAHASSE -- Legislation that would deregulate 14 businesses, professions and occupations ranging from interior design to auto repair cleared the Republican-controlled Florida House on Thursday.
The bill (HB 5005) passed on a party line 77-38 roll call with Democrats arguing deregulation would leave consumers unprotected from unscrupulous business interests.
“This dire lack of state oversight will lead to tragedy after tragedy, which will grace our newspaper headlines and break TV news exposes,” said Darren Soto, D-Orlando.
Republicans argued that regulation is stifling businesses with needless red tape and holding down competition.
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“Unnecessary government regulations hurt businesses and cost consumers more money,” said Rep. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican who sponsored the bill.
Hukill said much of the regulation is in name only because of a lack of training requirements, background checks and monitoring.
“When we give them a number and say they have a license or they have a registration number that’s a stamp of approval, which the average consumer will rely upon thinking that we do monitor them, thinking that we do regulate them,” she said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said the regulations are in- tended “to keep people out of the Florida market so that those in the Florida market can enjoy that protection.”
The bill also would deregulate sports agents; auctioneers; sellers of business opportunities; charitable organizations; hair braiders and wrappers and body wrappers; dance studios; health studios; intrastate movers; sellers of travel; talent agents; telemarketing, and yacht and ship brokers.
The bill’s prospects are uncertain when it goes to the Senate because no similar legislation has been filed there.
Much of the deregulation debate has focused on interior design. College students majoring in interior design testified at committee hearings that their degrees would be rendered meaningless if anyone could go into the business without training.
Business groups including the National Kitchen and Bath Association supported interior design deregulation, arguing it would expand the ranks of designers, giving consumers more choices and reducing cost.
The Screen Actors Guild opposes deregulating talent agents, contending it would jeopardize the film industry’s growth in Florida.
“A good reputation takes a lifetime to earn, and it won’t take more than a few unregulated, unscrupulous agents to shatter the trust that has been built and send potentially lucrative movie and television production to one of the other 49 states or outside the United States altogether,” guild board member Richard Masur wrote to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.
The bill also repeals regulations relating to transportation access to outdoor theaters, rooming houses, sales representative contracts involving commissions, television tube labeling and water vending machines.
The House also voted 80-38 for another bill (HB 5007) reducing penalties for violating business regulations and repealing or modifying various regulations including a reduction in licensing, examination and training for mold assessors and remediators.
Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston, argued “people will die” because of the mold changes. “People are going to come to Florida if we deregulate mold and mildew? Are you kidding me?” Sands said. “The charlatans and the scammers are going to move to Florida to be in the mold and mildew business.”