Many business and industries in Florida find it necessary to obtain some form of license in order to conduct business in this state. Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) is the state agency in charge of licensing and regulating businesses and professionals within Florida. The Florida DBPR is a governmental agency under the control of the executive branch subject to the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, found in Chapter 120, Florida Statutes. The DBPR’s stated goal is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. This blog is an insider’s perspective for how to navigate Florida’s regulatory and professional boards under DBPR.
Regulation Of Businesses And Professions In Florida
The Florida DBPR breaks down its regulation into businesses and professions. It regulates seven (7) businesses including, but not limited to, Condominiums and Cooperatives, Hotels and Restaurants, Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Tobacco and Alcoholic Beverages.
The DBPR’s regulation of professions is more expansive dealing with licensing, testing, education and discipline of some thirty (30) professions including, but not limited to, Architecture and Interior Design, Certified Public Accounting, Construction Industry, Electrical Contractors, Engineers, Building Codes and Standards, Mold-Related services, Real Estate and Veterinary Medicine. Similarly, the medical profession is governed by the Florida Board of Medicine under the Department of Health.
Profession Boards Under The Florida DBPR
There are many profession Boards under the DBPR. The Board members are gubernatorial appointees who are confirmed by the Florida Senate. Many of the profession Board have Executive Directors who oversee the Board and will serve as a liaison between the Board and the DBPR. The Executive Directors are responsible for ensuring the effective operation of the Boards, meetings and Board business and can serve as great resource for information when negotiating the administrative and regulatory process. The Florida Boards are:
Division of Professions:
- Architecture & Interior Design
- Building Code Administrators & Inspectors
- Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers
- Construction Industry Licensing
- Electrical Contractors’ Licensing
- Employee Leasing Companies
- Landscape Architecture
- Pilot Commissioners
- Veterinary Medicine
Division of Certified Public Accounting:
- Florida Board of Accountancy
Division of Real Estate:
- Florida Real Estate Commission
- Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board
A potential licensee and/or current license holder may have to appear before anyone of the above Boards for a number of reasons including, but certainly not limited to, an appeal of a Board ruling, an application for name change, an application for initial licensure, a disciplinary hearing or an informal hearing. While Formal Administrative hearings are handled by the Department of Administrative Hearings and administrative law judges, if the matter relates to a profession, the ultimate decision will eventually work its way through the administrative process to the respective Board that over sees the profession.
Top 5 Tips For Pre-Appearance Preparation At Professional Regulation Hearing
While I could spend countless pages detailing the administrative process from notification of a complaint through an administrative complaint, hearings, stipulations and so on, this article is written to provide you with general tips for appearing in front of an administrative Board in Florida. When you are appearing in front of an administrative Board for any reason, understand the power that Board has over your client’s ability to earn a livelihood in their chosen profession. The following are five (5) tips for appearing at a Board hearings:
Familiarize yourself with the procedures of the Board in front of which you will be appearing. This can be accomplished by viewing the Board during a hearing prior to yours. The meeting are open to the public and the published agenda includes dates, times and locations are provided months in advance and can be found on the DBPR website. By viewing the Board at a hearing prior to your own, you can develop an understanding of the style, timing and procedures followed by the Board and will be better able to adhere to same at your own hearing.
Know The Reason
Know the reason you are appearing, i.e., informal hearing to approve a settlement stipulation, consideration of a Petition for Declaratory Statement, or appeal of denial of licensure. Outline the issues that will be addressed at the hearing and do it quickly! The Board members are also professionals and they do not like listening to lawyers drone on about high level legal concepts. Get to the point. By preparing an outline of the issues to be addressed, you will be able to narrow the scope of your preparation to the decision points at hand. Be mindful that your hearing is not the only hearing scheduled before that particular Board during that session and any time you can streamline the process for the Board by providing direct, intelligent and succinct answers, you increase your chances of prevailing.
Have Responses Ready
Be prepared to provide direct responses to questions. Be prepared to fully explain the issue with specific dates and events as well as documentary evidence if available. Do not attempt to “wing it” and provide hackneyed responses to the Board’s questions. They have heard every excuse you can imagine and many that you cannot. If you have taken steps to address a perceived deficiency, prepared to discuss those steps in detail and provide the reason for taking the steps. You cannot over prepare for an appearance in front of an administrative Board, but certainly, familiarity with the Board and the process is an incredible advantage.
Manage Your Temper
Do not become angry during the hearing. While this may be hard in the face of various intrusive questioning, it is important to remain calm and continue to provide the outlined response you prepared to give. Even if you disagree with a Board member’s contention or statement, be respectful in your response and do not raise your voice. Remember, in almost every instance, you need the Board more than they need you and you need to show that you are professional and well-mannered in dealing with both other professionals (i.e., the Board members) as well as with the public in general. Also, and adverse ruling will have some form of appeal rights and you may eventually be back before that same Board. If you mouth off, they will remember you.
Finally, dress professionally. Remember this is a hearing in which other professionals are taking time from their everyday duties and jobs to assist the state in protecting the general public. The Board members rightfully take their duties seriously and it is in your best interest to show that you respect their time and efforts. Along with being prepared and respectful in answering, by dressing appropriately, you convey, before you even speak that you are taking the hearing seriously and that you recognize the serious nature of the business at hand. It is important that while the Board members are professionals and are to weight each situation on its merits, they are all human beings and many times people begin to make assumptions about individuals based on those individuals appearance. It is better to be overdressed for the occasion than regret your casual attire after the fact.
Conclusion On Regulatory And Professional Boards
By following the above tips, you will be ahead of those who are unprepared and appear to be less than fully invested in the process. This will allow you to distinguish yourself from others appearing at administrative Board hearings and will show that you are a trustworthy individual who should be allowed to represent and serve the general public in your chosen field or profession.