It Appears JBE Wasn’t All That Serious About Occupational Licensing Reform Other Than For Florists…

…and we know why the governor wants to de-license florists in the state – that’s a shot at former Republican Party of Louisiana chairman Roger Villere. Otherwise, John Bel Edwards’ blather about occupational license reform in Louisiana earlier this year was as big a lie as his campaign promise not to raise taxes.

You remember that promise, right? If not, here’s a bit of a refresher – it does seem like a long time ago…

When the current legislative session opened, Edwards addressed the legislature by talking up proposals on occupational licensing, in order to free up Louisianans who’d like to embark in various professional directions which are currently blocked by onerous requirements for licensing…

Gov. John Bel Edwards wants state lawmakers in the regular session this year to review Louisiana’s occupational licensing requirements that have been criticized as overly onerous – placing him on the side of pro-business groups that he’s often at odds with.

“We’re going to be looking at a number of things that we will do to move the state forward,” Edwards, a Democrat, said of his yet-to-be-released agenda for the regular legislative session that begins March 12.

It’s a new issue for Edwards, who heading into his third regular session since taking office is expected to again propose laws that have been previously shot down by the Legislature, including a minimum wage hike and equal pay legislation. Both have failed to gain traction, despite Edwards campaigning on the issues and personally pushing for their approval in the State Capitol.

Currently, Louisiana is the only state that requires licensing for florists and one of just four that requires licensing for interior designers – two licensing requirements that are frequently noted by critics.

“I’m not sure why we do that,” Edwards said of the florist licensing requirement specifically.

Villere is the owner of Villere’s Florist, in Metairie and Covington. He’s also opening a political consulting firm as we understand it. And yes, there is zero reason why flower shops should be licensed in Louisiana.

Not that it’s a surprise Louisiana licenses florists. Louisiana licenses practically everything. Our readers might well remember the debate last year over Rep. Julie Emerson’s hair-braiding bill, which died in the Senate largely thanks to the efforts of the corrupt Sen. Danny Martiny; the state’s cosmetologists fought the hair-braiding bill with a fervor bordering on creepy, and the House committee hearing on the bill was full of alarm about the potential deaths which could occur at the hands of unlicensed hair-braiders.

Seriously. Those statements were made multiple times. That’s how stupid things got. Nothing has changed, by the way – the hair-braiding bill is back this year, and Emerson got it through the House Commerce Committee yesterday despite the whining and fear-mongering.

Well, this year Emerson is back with a bill to delicense interior designers in Louisiana – only four states require such a license, and naturally this is one of them.

And as our buddy Robert Burns noted yesterday at his site Sound Off Louisiana!, it isn’t like there is this wide-scale demand for licensed interior designers in Louisiana. Delgado Community College in New Orleans eliminated its interior design program last year for lack of students, and LSU’s interior design program is dwindling as well – in large measure because of the well-known shortage of job opportunities for interior design grads in the state.

So you would think Emerson’s bill, HB 623, would sail through to passage. Particularly with Edwards voicing support for it.

Not so much, as it turns out. Emerson pulled the bill yesterday, because as she said she has almost a dozen bills in this session and couldn’t devote the energy to fighting the state’s incumbent interior designers necessary to carry it through the legislature.

And while Emerson was clear in telling us this wasn’t why she dumped it, it didn’t help that the governor’s office declined to support the bill.

Wait, what? Edwards isn’t supporting the bill?

Nope. According to the Institute for Justice’s Artur Davis, the former congressman from Alabama who was in town to testify on behalf of HB 623 yesterday, Edwards backed off because of “pushback” from the interior designers. That’s what Davis told Burns yesterday.

Sounds like a lot of passion for occupational licensing reform, right? Yeah, not really.

Understand that Louisiana needs to do a comprehensive pogrom of its boards and commissions with an eye toward wiping out as many as possible. IJ has done an enormous amount of research on the subject and ranks Louisiana 6th worst in the country in terms of the most broadly and onerously licensed states, and tied with Washington for the most professions out of the 102 studied for which one must obtain a license…

Louisiana licenses 77 of the 102 lower-income occupations studied here. Its laws are the 43rd most burdensome, requiring, on average, $360 in fees, 202 days of education and experience, and roughly two exams. Because Louisiana licenses so many of the occupations studied in this report—tying with Washington for the most occupations licensed—it ranks as the sixth most broadly and onerously licensed state.

Louisiana imposes burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for other occupations that may present greater risks to the public. For example, the barriers to opening a fire alarm or security alarm installation business in Louisiana are extremely high, even though not every state licenses them. Alarm installers must pay over $1,400 in fees, demonstrate more than five years (over 1,800 days) of education and experience, and pass four exams. EMTs meanwhile need only pay $110 in fees, complete 110 hours (roughly 26 days) of education and pass two exams for licensure.

Louisiana also licenses several occupations that are rarely licensed by other states. For example, it is one of just four states to license interior designers—the most arduously licensed occupation in this study. It requires $1,240 in fees, six years (2,190 days) of education and one exam. Louisiana is also the only state to license florists and is joined by just four other states in licensing non-instructional teacher assistants and by six others in licensing tree trimmers. As one of the two states that license the most occupations studied here, Louisiana could substantially improve its rankings by repealing these and other occupational licenses, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives.

Edwards made a lot of noise about occupational licensing reform, seeing as though those boards and commissions represent a fairly onerous obstacle to putting Louisianans to work.If he’s serious about that, then let’s see him support Emerson’s other key bill, HB 562. That bill, the Occupational Licensing Review Act, would among other things slap a sunset review provision on all occupational licenses in the state, meaning that the legislature would have to act to re-establish them following a review of whether they work.

We really like sunset reviews here. We really like it when the bureaucrats and politicians have to work to preserve the status quo as opposed to the reverse. And where occupational licenses are concerned, sunset reviews are entirely appropriate – after all, those licenses are a lot less necessary in the 21st century, when a lot more people are looking at Angie’s List and Yelp than they are at whether some business has a license.

So let’s see Edwards get behind HB 562. If he doesn’t, we’ll know his talk about occupational licenses was just that – and we’ll assess his credibility accordingly.

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