Florist files federal lawsuit over licensing law

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain
Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain

By David Spunt - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A decades-old law found only in Louisiana is causing many complaints among florists. The law states retail florists must take and pass an exam in order to be certified.

A New Orleans flower shop owner is challenging the law. Monique Chauvin and two of her employees at Mitch's Flowers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain and other members of the state Horticulture Commission.

Chauvin claims the licensing exam is overly subjective and is administered by florists who have an interest in reducing competition. Her lawyers are from the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that already has unsuccessfully challenged the florist licensing law. A federal judge dismissed a similar suit in 2005.

"Our law is so goofy and it just doesn't make any sense," said Buzzy Heroman of Billy Heroman's Flowerland. "I've never found a need for it, personally, and my dad never found a need for it."

Heroman is not part of the lawsuit, but agrees with its message.

"I don't see who it's helping. It doesn't help the consumer and it doesn't help the florist and the flower shops or anybody that sells flowers," he said.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the test costs $50 for the written portion, $100 for the design portion and $75 for a yearly renewal.

"As somebody who pays three renewals a year, I don't see what it's doing for me as a retailer," Heroman added.

Commissioner Mike Strain's office said he is not releasing a statement on the lawsuit or the matter.

Copyright 2010 WAFB. All rights reserved.