NSPE Fights Legislation Threatening the PE License in Ohio

Monday, May 7, 2018

In coordination with the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers, NSPE is fighting Ohio S.B. 255, which could undermine and potentially eliminate engineering licensure in the state. The legislation sets forth a new policy allowing the state to use the least restrictive regulation to protect consumers from present, significant, and substantiated harms that threaten public health and safety. The policy of employing the least restrictive regulation shall “presume that market competition and private remedies are sufficient to protect consumers.” The legislation also establishes a sunset date for all occupational licensing boards and directs a sunset review for each board every five years. The bill places the burden on each board to defend its very existence in each review.
In a letter to the Ohio Senate president, committee chairman, and the bill’s Senate sponsor, NSPE President Tom Roberts, P.E., F.NSPE, urged defeat of the legislation stating that, “Requiring the state’s engineering board to defend its continued existence every five years based on a standard presuming that the market protects the public is a radical departure from the system that was designed specifically to protect Ohio’s citizens. Engineering services require complex designs, planning, coordination, established expertise, and projects that can last years, if not decades. Selecting an unqualified provider can have extraordinary safety and economic consequences. These are not services that can be judged by a layperson or protected by market forces. Engineering licensure exists specifically to ensure that experts with deep knowledge of the field establish a comprehensive and thoughtful oversight system to protect the public. The new state standard and proposed sunset review poses a grave safety risk.”
The narrative around licensure needs to change and recognize the vital role played by our regulatory system in protecting the public health, safety, and welfare. A professional engineer’s foremost responsibility is to protect the public, and Ohio’s current engineering licensure system is designed to ensure this protection.