The Institute for Justice’s lawsuit against the Louisiana Horticultural Committee has begun to pick up steam in the media. New Orleans CityBusiness ran a cover story (subscription required) regarding the support of, and opposition to, IJ’s lawsuit.
As evident in David Muller’s article, the arguments justifying this blatantly anti-competitive law are weak. In defense of the status quo, Louisiana State Florists Association Vice President Mike Rome states, “It gives you an assurance that the flower caring techniques are the best in the industry.” Isn’t this something for the consumers to decide?
Unlike the automotive industry where consumer safety entails strict measures of regulation, here we are talking about decorative floral arrangements. Their aesthetic quality or lack thereof should be self-evident and has no implications regarding personal health or safety.
Another argument posits that the lawsuit comes in response to a small minority who were unable to pass the test (assumedly to incompetence). There might be something to this, but in years past a higher percentage of people passed the Louisiana Bar Exam than passed the Floral Licensing Test. According to the Institute of Justice’s data, the average pass rate on the practical component of the retail florist exam between April 1995 and May 2004 was 36.2%. In contrast, the pass rate for the July 2004 Louisiana Bar Exam was 65 percent, and the pass rate for 2003 was 61.5 percent. If there are failed exam takers with an axe to grind, maybe they have a point.