All Americans have the right to economic liberty: the right to earn an honest living in the occupation of one's choice without unnecessary government interference. It stands at the heart of the American Dream. Unfortunately, that dream is under constant attack through arbitrary, burdensome or anticompetitive laws that require occupational licenses—essentially permissions slips from the government to work. The requirements for licensure can be an enormous burden and often force entrepreneurs to waste their valuable time and money to become licensed—or even make it impossible for them to work.
Young people entering the workforce are particularly disadvantaged by licensing regimes, along with minorities and women. For high school students already balancing classes, it's impossible to spare thousands of hours—literally years of their lives—in extra classes to be allowed to earn extra money working weekends in a beauty salon or doing odd jobs for a construction contractor. The result is workers who are needlessly kept out of the workforce.
Worse yet, these burdens too often have no connection at all to public health or safety. Instead, they are imposed simply to protect established businesses from economic competition. For example, in many states, hair braiders are required to obtain over 1,000 hours of education that has nothing to do with hair braiding and everything to do with limiting competition for established cosmetologists.
And the problem is growing. In 1950, about 5 percent of American workers needed an occupational license. Today that number is over 25 percent. Without these licenses, entrepreneurs can face stiff fines or even risk jail time.
IJ's landmark study, License to Work, measured for the first time the burdens that occupational licensing imposes on more than 100 low- and moderate-income occupations. Florida's occupational licensing regime is among the most restrictive in the nation. The state enforces burdensome laws that deter entry into 45 of the 102 low- and moderate-income occupations surveyed in the study. On average, breaking into one of these occupations in Florida requires $274 in fees, 603 days of education, over a year and a half of experience, and one exam. Barriers like these make it harder for people to find jobs and build new businesses that create jobs.
Explore License to Work's Florida profile
For a growing number of Americans, gainful employment no longer requires convincing only a potential employer or customer of their value. It requires also convincing the government. This barrier to an honest living makes entrepreneurship more difficult in general. Furthermore, it can be an effective bar to entering many low-income occupations for people with less access to financial capital or formal education. These laws are wrong—economically, morally and constitutionally. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to pursue the occupation of one's choosing and guarantees that consumers and employers, not legislators and bureaucrats, should decide who succeeds in which jobs. To expand economic opportunity and vindicate the basic constitutional right to economic liberty, IJ is dedicated to rolling back these unnecessary and harmful restrictions.
~ Three students will earn a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship ~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott invited Florida K-12 students to participate in the 2018 Black History Month art and essay contests based on this year’s theme, “A Celebration of Innovative African-American Leaders.” Students, parents, teachers and principals are also invited to nominate full-time educators in elementary, middle and high schools for the Black History Month Excellence in Education Award.
Governor Scott said, “Ann and I are proud to join Florida families in celebrating Black History Month this February and encourage every Florida student to participate in the 2018 Black History Month contests and nominate one of our state’s great educators for the Excellence in Education Award.”
First Lady Ann Scott said, “Governor Scott and I are so honored to announce this year’s Black History Month contests in celebration of Florida’s many innovative leaders. I hope every student takes advantage of this opportunity to learn about our state’s history and potentially earn a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship. We are also honored to recognize this year’s featured artist, Thomas H. Lewis, whose beautiful one-of-a-kind stained glass art is displayed around the country.”
About the Student Contests
Art Contest for Grades K-3: The Black History Month art contest is open to all Florida students in grades K-3. Two winners will be selected.
Essay Contest for Grades 4-12: The Black History Month essay contest is open to all Florida students in grades 4 through 12. Three winners will be selected: one elementary student (grades 4-5), one middle-school student (grades 6-8), and one high school student (grades 9-12). Winners will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.
About the Excellence in Education Award
Governor Scott’s annual Black History Month Excellence in Education Award Contest is open to all full-time educators in an elementary, middle or high school in Florida. Three winners will be selected: one elementary teacher (grades K-5), one middle school teacher (grades 6-8) and one high school teacher (grades 9-12).
Contest Entries and Nomination Forms and Guidelines
Student contest forms and educator nomination forms must be mailed to Volunteer Florida or submitted online at www.FloridaBlackHistory.com.
Black History Month Committee
3800 Esplanade Way, Suite 180
Tallahassee, Florida 32311
All entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, March 2, 2018.
More information about the contests and Florida’s Black History Month is available at www.FloridaBlackHistory.com.