Nearly one third of American workers need an occupational license to do their jobs. Since the 1950s, the number of jobs requiring a license has increased five times, with most of the growth coming from an increase in the number of existing professions that now require a license that didn’t require one before.
While licensing can offer important health and safety protections to consumers, the Brookings Institute notes that the current system often requires unnecessary training, lengthy delays, or high fees, making these jobs only accessible to those with the time and means to complete the requirements. The increased dependency on licensing going beyond consumer protection has been a bi-partisan concern for many years. According to a report issued by the Obama Administration, licensing can create higher costs for consumers and prohibit skilled workers, like florists, from entering jobs in which they could succeed.
Louisiana is the only state in the nation to license individuals that want to enter the floral industry, which has gained national attention in recent years, garnering the interest of news organizations such as USA Today. This practice is in direct contradiction to legislation the Pelican Institute championed in 2022 that calls for occupational licensing to only be required when it could pose a threat to public health, safety, and welfare. To obtain the florist license, one must study for, take, and pass, a written examination that costs $114 per attempt, plus the cost of study materials and/or training classes.
Once the test is passed, the individual must apply for a license and pay an additional $100. If a licensed florist then desires to work as a wholesale dealer, he or she must obtain a separate dealer license, for an additional fee. Currently, a floral business must have at least one licensed florist on staff that works a minimum of 32 hours per week, who will oversee any unlicensed florists the business may have.
This license does nothing to protect the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. If it did, then many other states would follow along and license their florists as well. Federal and state regulations are already in place to protect against the importation of diseased plants, which is the only argument consistently made by proponents of the floral license. If an unlicensed florist creates an unsatisfactory arrangement or otherwise does not meet the expectations of consumers, they will simply go to another florist. A bad actor in the floral industry will simply not survive in the marketplace.
The Pelican Institute backed a bill in 2018 that called for the repeal of the florist license. Unfortunately, it failed to pass the legislative process due to heavy lobbying by existing florists, despite support from the Governor.
This licensing requirement is a microcosm of the over-regulation that’s occurring in dozens of occupational fields. Over regulating professions hinders barriers to work. While Louisiana stands alone in the licensing of the floral profession, many states have needless licensing laws, from fortune tellers and funeral attendants to make-up artists and hair shampooers. These occupational licenses create unnecessary roadblocks to work and dignity for many Americans. We can change this. It’s time for Louisiana to wake up and smell the roses—whether the florist was licensed or not.