In Michigan, ‘Least Restrictive’ Is Most Threatening
The Michigan Society of Professional Engineers is acting to defend professional engineering licensure as state lawmakers consider legislation aimed at reforming occupational licensure.
If enacted, the bill (H.B. 6114), introduced in June, would require the Michigan Law Revision Commission to review any bill that seeks to enact or amend an occupational regulation to determine if the legislation meets a policy of using “the least restrictive” regulation necessary to protect consumers and public safety.
In its review process, the Law Revision Commission would do the following: require the bill’s proponents to submit evidence of present, significant, and substantiated harms to consumers, and information from other individuals knowledgeable about the occupation; evaluate effects of the legislation on opportunities for workers, consumer choices and costs, general unemployment, market competition, and governmental costs; compare the way in which the occupation would be regulated by the legislation and review other states’ regulatory approaches; and provide a written report.
MSPE has contacted the legislation’s sponsors to incorporate language into the bill that would compel the Law Revision Commission to employ a presumption that a license should be maintained if the occupation is licensed by Michigan and 45 other states.
NSPE believes introduction of these type of bills underscores the profession’s need for vigilance against attacks on licensure. Since 2016, legislation and regulations that could undermine or even eliminate licensure have been introduced in 32 states, and the attacks continue to intensify.
Defining ‘Good Moral Character’
MSPE also aims to amend a related bill (H.B. 6110), which seeks to encourage the rehabilitation of former offenders and increase their employment prospects. The bill calls for reestablishing the definition of “good moral character” as used for a requirement for an occupational or professional license or to establish or operate an organization or facility regulated by the state.
The bill outlines four conditions for when a licensing board may consider a criminal conviction as evidence in determining an applicant’s good moral character. MSPE believes that leaving it as proposed may require engineers and other licensed occupations to open up their acts and try to define any type of conviction which may be of concern and actually make this a greater barrier to employment. The society wants to modify the language so that all four conditions don’t need to be met before a felony conviction is reviewed for bearing on good moral character.