In Florida, the law requires 2,190 days of training to become an interior designer and a government license. It takes just 34 days to become an emergency medical technician. Something is wrong with this picture. And one Florida high schooler has a solution.

The problem is occupational licensing run amok. Occupational licenses are just what they sound like: government permission slips to work in a particular field. Unfortunately, instead of being narrowly used to protect public health and safety, occupational licenses are often used by cartels of existing practitioners to limit their competition from entrepreneurs. This kind of government protectionism is unconstitutional. In spite of this, America faces a nationwide epidemic of occupational licenses, and Florida is one of its epicenters.

Young people are particularly shutout by occupational licensing, but some young people are pushing back. This spring, IJ hosted an essay contest for Florida high school students, asking them which occupational license they think their state should repeal. The top prize goes to Erika Langley, a 16-year-old home school student from Tallahassee. Her proposal? Abolish Florida’s license for interior designers.

It’s a proposition that would catch Florida up with the rest of the country. Just two other states and the District of Columbia feel the need to subject designers to a grueling marathon of meaningless training and an exam judged by, you guessed it, their future competition, before allowing them to go into business. All this for an occupation whose biggest risk is messing up somebody’s feng shui.

For her contribution to the debate about economic liberty in Florida, Erika will receive a $500 scholarship from the Institute for Justice and we will work with her and Florida lawmakers to try to make her idea a reality.


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