Colorado PEs Defeat Occupational Licensure Bills
NSPE–Colorado members helped defeat legislation introduced in the state General Assembly that posed a threat to professional engineering licensure.
In May, a bill (S.B. 18-236) that would have required state licensing boards to presume that consumers are sufficiently protected by market competition and private remedies was tabled indefinitely in committee. The legislation directed boards to impose the “least restrictive regulation necessary to address present, significant, and substantiated harm” in addition to alternative types of regulations.
The bill also would have created guidelines for the Department of Regulatory Agencies to follow when making recommendations to address harm arising from contractual disputes; fraud; unclean facilities or general health and safety issues; a provider’s failure to meet contractual obligations or standards; protecting individuals who are not a party to a contract; and providers not located in state.
NSPE–Colorado President Ben Railsback, P.E., testified against the bill during a committee hearing to express concerns about the harm that passage would pose to the public. “The bill would have codified a provision to presume that consumers are sufficiently protected by market competition and private remedies,” he says. “In engineering, such a codification could mean that a party was severely injured or even killed before consumer protection was enacted. In my opinion, that is and was dangerous language.”
NSPE–Colorado also opposed an additional bill (S.B. 18-193) that would have prohibited state agencies from imposing personal qualification requirements, such as education or examination requirements, to engage in a profession or occupation unless the agency can demonstrate that the requirement is necessary and narrowly tailored to address a specific, legitimate public health, safety, or welfare objective. The legislation, also referred to as “The Right to a Living Act,” passed in the Senate, but died in a House committee.
Railsback credits the partnership between the Colorado Society and NSPE for helping to defeat the legislation. “National provided timely support and analysis of the bill,” he says, “and my testimony along with other state groups provided a consistent and unified front.”
NSPE–Colorado expects that similar bills will be proposed in the future. The organization plans to work with bill sponsors to craft language that recognizes engineering and other vital professions that protect the public and provide exemptions in new legislation.