Florida was back at it this week with ridiculous licensing laws, this time coming from the state itself. Heather Kokesch Del Castillo is a privately-certified health coach who previously worked in California giving diet and nutrition advice. Her husband was recently transferred to the military base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where Heather was promptly faced with a $750 fine and threats of more fines and even jail time if she continued her practice in Florida. The reasoning? Heather isn’t a licensed dietitian in Florida– so the state is prohibiting her from giving advice about what people should eat.
In order to receive a dietitian’s license in Florida, Heather would have to go back to school and complete a four year degree, complete 900 hours of supervised work, pay multiple fees, and pass an exam. She doesn’t need any of these qualifications to publish a book about the same topic– there are no regulations for what she’s allowed to print– but if she wants to tell people what they ought to buy from the grocery store and those people pay her for her help, the state is threatening Heather with fines of up to $5,000 per day of violation and up to a year in jail.
The Institute for Justice has taken on Heather’s case and is fighting the notion that two consenting adults are not able to discuss grocery shopping habits without the government’s blessing.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that unnecessary licensing laws have had a negative effect on small business owners, particularly in Florida. A local government in the northern part of the state told a food truck owner that he couldn’t give food to Hurricane Irma victims following the storm because he failed to obtain a permit. Whether it’s food trucks or diet tips, requiring government’s blessing over your interactions is an egregious overreach that is unnecessary and unjustifiable. All politics is local, and this is an issue that deserves more attention than it receives.
Heather was only put on the government’s radar because a licensed dietitian saw an opportunity to eliminate an element of competition. Her customers were not complaining, no one had been harmed by her advice, and she was helping out people who were looking for personable diet tips. I see no issue with people like Heather providing grocery shopping tips, and consequently see no need for government’s stamp of approval to be anywhere near the issue.