NSPE Today: Policy Perspectives
Members Drove Advocacy Success in 2020; Get Ready 2021
BY STEPHANIE HAMILTON
We’re at the start of a new year, and lots of possibilities, opportunities, and work lie head. But before looking forward, I want to briefly look back, because NSPE members showed up in record numbers last year, and I don’t want that to go unacknowledged. More detailed advocacy data, and what it means for NSPE going forward, are available in our Advocacy Year In Review.
Last year, NSPE members from 49 states participated in advocacy campaigns. A total of 1,588 members took a total of 2,941 actions. That’s a nearly 100% increase over 2019—94% to be exact! And your engagement helped us achieve a 27% success rate, which we define as a bill being voted out of its original chamber or signed into law. In addition, only one bill that NSPE opposed was signed into law—also a huge win!
Given the encouraging numbers from this 2020, we wanted to find a fun way to reward those who consistently participate in advocacy and incentivize everyone to either get or stay engaged with campaign efforts. With this in mind, we’ve added a little fun to all of our national campaigns, with a reward each month for those who are most active.
We launched this feature on January 1, and now, every time you participate in a national campaign, you’ll earn points. Each month, the top 10 advocates will be invited to participate in an exclusive, invite-only Advocacy Roundtable, where we’ll take time to acknowledge and show appreciation for those high-capacity advocates. We’ll also discuss best practices and have some special guests. So, return often to our Advocacy Center and check for new ways to earn points. Let the (friendly) games begin!
As for what we’re watching as state and federal legislative sessions reconvene for the new year, here are the issues we’ve identified as likely to be most-active.
As we all know, threats to licensure is an ongoing issue. This year is no different. What’s different is the tactic antilicensure organizations have adopted. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, and states began issuing and passing emergency executive orders and legislation, much of the activity included moratoriums on licensing requirements like continuing education. They also waived requirements for out-of-state licensees (mostly, but not entirely, limited to medical professionals) to obtain in-state licensing in order to practice.
As a result, antilicensure groups are using those executive and legislative actions as evidence that certain licensure requirements are unnecessary. Expect to see “universal licensing” bills aimed at requiring states to either accept out-of-state licenses (with no requirement for those individuals to obtain a license in that state), or automatically issue a license to out-of-state license holders who meet minimum requirements.
Not all of these bills will be bad. Some, as we’ve seen in the past, will set requirements that essentially match the current PE licensing mobility model. Others, however, will prohibit things like “substantially similar” requirements, or will establish residency requirements that, for PEs, would increase the barrier to licensure.
President Biden has made it clear that transportation and infrastructure are high priorities for his administration. Given the ongoing bipartisan efforts to pass a hefty infrastructure package over the last four years, we expect movement on this issue early, probably in the first 100 days. How long it will take both Congressional chambers to approve a final package is anyone’s guess, however.
It’s an issue we expect to receive a lot of attention at the state level, too, as several states continue sounding the alarm about much-needed infrastructure repairs and upgrades. Though a federal spending package would be ideal, we’re more likely to see significant movement at the state level.
The Biden-Harris infrastructure plan is part of a larger sustainability and clean-energy plan that the new administration released during the campaign. The nine-point plan includes sustainability- and clean-energy-focused investment in infrastructure, the auto industry, mass transit, buildings, power, housing, agriculture, and conservation. It’s an ambitious plan, to be sure, and while some aspects of the plan will no doubt meet with strong opposition, others already have wide bipartisan support, especially those that will provide a near-immediate economic boost.
As you can see, there will be a lot happening legislatively in 2021. The Government Relations team will continue keeping eyes and ears on the issues that matter most to NSPE members. We’ll also continue our congressional outreach and do all we can to encourage and support you doing the same. Together, we accomplished a lot last year. And together, I believe we’ll accomplish even more this year!
Stephanie Hamilton is NSPE’s manager of government relations and advocacy.