How Professional Licenses Criminalize Good Behavior | EDITORIAL
Helping people rebuild after a devastating hurricane should not be a criminal offence. But thanks to expensive professional licensing schemes, it can be.
Terence Duque owns a roofing business in Texas, which opened in 2008. His company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a top recommendation from Owens Corning, a roofing supply company. In other words, he runs a reputable company.
There is a high demand for roofing services after natural disasters such as Hurricane Ian. This month, he traveled to Florida to provide roofing services to those affected by the hurricane. According to reports, he brought an RV command center and construction trailers. He moved into a community center in an area hard hit by the storm.
People who rush after natural disasters to help their fellow Americans deserve applause. Instead, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mr. Duque. These crack investigators discovered that a local landlord had received an offer from his company. Then the homeowner entered into a written contract to have his roof repaired. The horror.
His offence? Mr. Duque didn’t have the proper license – in Florida. His business is licensed in other states. For his part, Mr. Duque said he read Governor Ron DeSantis’ emergency order and thought that meant out-of-state contractors were allowed. He asked one of his employees to contact the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. He believed he had received authorization to repair the roofs.
None of this – or common sense – swayed the local police. They took him to jail and then bragged about it.
“These people have been through enough, and I will not allow unlicensed contractors to victimize them any further,” Sheriff Bill Prummell said. said in a press release.
Florida licensing bureaucrats huddled together. They praised the sheriff for arresting “an unlicensed roofer putting Floridians at risk.”
What a ridiculous claim. Owners need repairs, not paperwork. They would be lucky to have a company as experienced as Mr. Duque’s to provide this service. A study after Hurricane Frances itself found that allowing roofers from other states hastened Florida’s recovery.
“The Department of Business and Professional Regulation doesn’t seem to realize that it’s the bad guy here,” said Justin Pearson, attorney at the Institute for Justice. “When safe and successful businesses come to Florida to help with hurricane recovery, the last thing (Florida) should want is for workers to be arrested and charged with a crime.”
The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office owes Mr. Duque an apology. And lawmakers in Florida and Nevada should use this incident as an impetus to re-examine protectionist licensing requirements more broadly.