In Ohio, Advocacy Makes a PE Tradition
Professional engineers who serve as state or federal legislators—and there aren’t many—always encourage their PE constituents to share their expertise and views with their elected officials.
“Information and input can shape a vote. This isn’t even lobbying; it is providing facts where there might otherwise be a void of information,” says Scott Stone, P.E., a member of the North Carolina House. “If you can be accessible and provide quick feedback on important issues, you can have significant impact on public policy.”
The Ohio Society of Professional Engineers has a tradition of making that impact. On May 8, OSPE held “Ohio Engineers Legislative Day” in Columbus, an annual tradition that goes back to 1994.
Nearly 70 PE participants began the day attending seminars on government and policy issues. They learned about the state’s transportation budget, an engineering college’s place in a research university, coal-fired power plants, power generation in 2019, policy initiatives that affect PEs, and how to become stronger advocates for the profession.
The participants then met with 15 Ohio legislators to discuss the bills and other state issues that matter most to PEs. Ohio House Bill 159, for example, addresses indemnity provisions in public design contracts. Supported by OSPE, the measure would limit a design firm’s liability to only their proportionate share of tortious conduct. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Louis Blessing, III, P.E., an OSPE member.
Another, H.B. 189, is called Tyler’s Law, after 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell, who was killed when a ride at the state fair malfunctioned in 2017. Seven others were injured. The bill, also sponsored by Blessing, addresses many aspects of amusement ride and was approved 88–6 by the House in early June. Although OSPE is neutral on the measure, it is advocating for a PE’s involvement in public safety.
OSPE also used the day to educate legislators about the nationwide trend to reform occupational licensing laws. As NSPE and OSPE emphasize, the PE license is critical to the public health, safety, and welfare. While there is no specific bill in Ohio to reform licensure, just last year a bill set forth a new policy that would have allowed the state to use the least restrictive regulation to protect consumers from present, significant, and substantiated harms. Now, OSPE wants to make sure elected officials know the importance of PE licensure and its long history in the state, dating to 1933.
Learn more about professional engineers, like OSPE’s Louis Blessing, who serve as state legislators.
IN PREPARATION FOR OHIO ENGINEERS LEGISLATIVE DAY ON MAY 8, OSPE’S LEADERS MET WITH STATE REP. LOUIS BLESSING, III, P.E., ON MAY 2 TO DISCUSS CURRENT LEGISLATION AND THE CRITICAL NEED FOR PE LICENSURE IN OHIO. LEFT TO RIGHT ARE OSPE SECRETARY HOWARD JONES, P.E., F.NSPE; OSPE PAST PRESIDENT DAVID DEXTER, P.E., F.NSPE; STATE REP. BLESSING; OSPE PRESIDENT L. STEVE DAY, P.E.; AND OSPE PRESIDENT-ELECT DEVON SEAL, P.E.