Threats to Professional Licensure: State List

Virginia

Legislation requiring the review and analysis of licensing requirements, resulting in recommendations to remove any unnecessary or overly burdensome licensing requirements. This piece of legislation does not specifically target professional engineers.
Legislative/Executive Order/Regulatory:
Legislative
Status:
HB 883: Signed by Governor Northam on 3/23/2018.
SB 20: Signed by Governor Northam on 3/23/2018.
HB 1195: Eligible to be carried over to the 2019 Legislative Session on 3/10/2018.
HB 880: Eligible to be carried over to the 2019 Legislative Session on 3/10/2018.
HB 2221: Died in Committee in 2017.
HB 1566: Died in Conference Committee in 2017.
HB 1937: Died in Committee in 2017.
Summary:

These identical bills (HB 883 & SB 20) became the bipartisan regulatory reform deal between Governor Northam and the General Assembly. As originally filed, HB 883 would have created a pilot program that would require state agencies to submit two or more existing regulations to be “replaced or repealed” before a new regulation can be approved.  The current version as well as SB 20 removes the two-for-one requirement and creates a three-year regulatory reduction pilot program with a goal of the program to reduce regulatory requirements, compliance costs, and regulatory burdens within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Department of Criminal Justice Services by 25% by July 1, 2021. These measures have faced little opposition, passing the Senate by a vote of 40-0. The measure has been approved by the Governor.

HB 1195 creates the Joint Commission to Evaluate Professional and Occupational Licensing Requirements to examine the statutory and regulatory professional and occupational licensing requirements of the regulatory boards within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to determine whether such requirements may be reduced or eliminated while still, in the least restrictive manner, protecting the public health and safety. A similar bill, HB 2221, was introduced during the 2017 Legislative Session, but died in committee. 

HB 880 establishes the position of Professional and Occupational Regulatory Analyst within the Division of Legislative Services to assist the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules in (i) exerting its best efforts to evaluate at least three professions or occupations in each year and (ii) to the extent feasible, reviewing legislation establishing or modifying an occupational regulation to determine whether the legislation uses the least restrictive regulation necessary to protect or preserve the public health, safety, and welfare. The evaluation shall include recommendations for changes to occupational regulations to encourage use of the least restrictive regulation necessary. This measure could potentially consolidate many boards, including engineering, into one. 

A similar bill, HB 1566, was introduced by the same sponsor, but died in Conference Committee in 2017. According to the fiscal note of HB 1566, the Division of Legislative Services estimates there are 65 professions and occupations that will need to be evaluated. DLS expects that much input will need to be received from stakeholders including the regulated community, regulatory boards, and impacted consumers in reviewing any profession or occupation. For the reasons enumerated, DLS needs to hire one full-time regulatory analyst to implement.

HB 1937 seeks to establish a statewide policy for the regulation of professions and occupations specifying criteria for government regulation with the objective of increasing opportunities, promoting competition, encouraging innovation, protecting consumers, and complying with applicable federal antitrust laws. In addition, the bill establishes a process for the active supervision of state regulatory boards pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, in which the Court held that a state regulatory board that includes active market participants among its board membership must be actively supervised by the state for such board and its members to be entitled to immunity for federal antitrust violations. The bill also creates the Division of Supervision of Regulatory Boards in the Office of the Attorney General to be responsible for the active supervision of regulatory boards.

NSPE has contacted the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers regarding these threatening pieces of legislation. NSPE and VSPE will continue to monitor and work together to oppose any efforts to undermine engineering licensure.