What Do Food Trucks And Boxing Announcers Have In Common? Florida Lawmakers Want To Deregulate Them

Originally published on February 21, 2020 1:09 pm

Local governments would be barred from licensing food truck vendors in their communities, as part of broader deregulation proposals that cleared final House and Senate committees Thursday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee and House Commerce Committee approved similar bills (SB 474 and HB 1193) that meet part of a call by Gov. Ron DeSantis to scale back occupational regulations.

The proposals would reduce or eliminate regulations on professions ranging from hair braiders and hair wrappers to boxing announcers and timekeepers. In a closely watched issue, the proposals include a voluntary certificate of registration process for interior designers.

Also, local governments would be barred from prohibiting the operation of food trucks.

Senate sponsor Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said the intent is to eliminate the duplication of state and local licensing requirements. He said local officials will still be able to dictate the hours and locations of food trucks.

Albritton added that while state sanitary rules would be in place for the vehicles, local zoning laws would still be enforceable.

“It is clear in this bill that if the local ordinance or the local perspective is that they do not want these mobile vendors operating in that downtown space, they still have every right and authority to provide for that,” Albritton said. “And the local law enforcement or whoever they choose can still enforce that.”

The food truck “preemption” drew opposition from the Florida League of Cities.

Jeff Branch, a lobbyist for the league, said after the meeting that local governments should be able to know who is operating in their communities. Branch added that even requiring the vendors to register without a charge would save time for local code enforcement and law enforcement.

“If they’re aware of our regulations, they (the vendors) are less likely to get a zoning violation,” Branch said.

Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, questioned the wisdom of the food-truck regulation changes.

“In cities and counties where the food trucks operate, it is the requirement of the locals to make sure that those trucks are operating safety, that they are operating in a sanitary manner,” Gibson said.

Gibson added that the changes would reduce local revenue generated by small businesses.

“By preempting everything to the state, it goes to the state,” she said.

DeSantis has repeatedly called for scaling back occupational licensing requirements.

“We feel this is going to put success more in the hands of folks and not have a guild mentality where you’re trying to keep people out,” DeSantis told reporters Thursday.

The committee actions came before the full House on Thursday voted 78-40 to approve a separate measure (HB 3) that would prevent local licensing of numerous types of occupations. It would preempt such licensing to the state.

Democrats voting against the proposal, calling it overly broad. But bill sponsor Michael Grant, R-Port Charlotte, said the intent is to “free up the workforce.”

A similar measure in the Senate (SB 1336) stalled Monday after being brought up by the Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee.

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