By John Haughey
The Center Square
July 3, 2020
(The Center Square) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a preemption bill last year that would have prohibited local governments from banning plastic straws, citing it as an example of legislative overreach.
This year, however, DeSantis has signed into law a similar preemption measure that restricts local governments from banning over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, specifically sunscreens.
The governor signed the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act into law Monday and, on Tuesday, affixed his signature to the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, which dramatically reduces local governments’ capacities to regulate professions and trades.
The two measures were among more than 50 bills filed during the 2020 session seeking to preempt local government and the most prominent to pass.
Among failed 2020 preemption bills was House Bill 1011, which sought to forbid municipalities from regulating vacation rentals. After DeSantis said he was “leaning against” the state “micromanaging vacation rentals,” the measure died on the House floor.
One of the only two 2020 bills vetoed by the governor also was a preemption measure, Senate Bill 410, sponsored by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.
Among other provisions, SB 410 would have prohibited future county charter or comprehensive plan amendments from imposing land-use regulations within a municipality.
The bill passed the House, 71-43, and the Senate, 23-16, despite opposition from local governments and the smart-growth advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida, which said it would “essentially preempt land-use policy decisions made by counties.”
DeSantis objected to SB 410’s provision that prohibited a county from imposing regulations on lands within a municipality unless they have the same regulations.
“This broad provision preempts charter county powers and unnecessarily risks frustrating the will of the voters in charter counties,” he wrote.
When DeSantis vetoed last year’s bill banning local plastic straw restrictions, he said the state had “no compelling interest” in doing so.
In signing the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act preemption bill, DeSantis said the state does have a compelling interest in ensuring Floridians have access to cancer-inhibiting ointments.
The Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act, sponsored Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, was approved in the House, 68-47, and in the Senate, 25-14.
The bill was drafted in response to Key West joining Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands in banning sun screens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate because the chemicals allegedly damage coral reefs.
The Occupational Freedom & Opportunity Act streamlines regulatory requirements imposed by 18 state boards that license 439,821 Floridians who work in a swath of professions, saving licensees an estimated $2.176 million over the next three years, and precludes local governments from imposing their own standards for all but a handful of professions and trades.
The measures were supported by business interests and Americans For Prosperity (AFP), which maintains licensing regulations nationwide annually cost 2 million jobs, $7.1 billion in “deadweight economic losses” and $197.3 billion in “misallocated resources.”
“For two years, we’ve pushed for regulatory reforms in Florida’s occupational licensing system to remove unnecessary barriers for individuals pursuing their professional aspirations,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “Today, with legislative and public support, we’re delivering on those reforms with a comprehensive and meaningful bill that will save thousands of Floridians both time and money for years to come.”
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears, who spearheaded deregulation efforts as a lawmaker, said the law is a “major milestone in bringing common sense to occupational licensing standards” that puts Florida on “the frontline of regulatory reform.”