Virginia Deregulation Effort a Harbinger of More Threats to Licensure?
In most states, just beyond the busy holiday season comes the beginning of 2012 state legislative sessions. Before you make your list and check it twice, also make sure your chapter is prepared for any deregulation efforts or restraints to practice in your state. This year saw deregulation bills introduced and defeated in Florida and New Hampshire, and indications are that this trend will continue in 2012.
The Virginia (VA ASLA) and Potomac (Potomac ASLA) chapters are working jointly to ensure that legislation to implement Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring do not include the recommendation to deregulate landscape architecture. VA ASLA met with the governor’s staff on November 21 and was informed later that week that Governor McDonnell has chosen not to accept the recommendation of the commission to deregulate landscape architecture. While the governor’s legislation will not include deregulation of landscape architecture, there is no guarantee that the Virginia General Assembly will follow suit. VA ASLA and Potomac ASLA will be working diligently during the 90-day Virginia General Assembly session to ensure that this deregulation effort does not return.
The commission cited the paucity of board disciplinary actions against landscape architects as a primary rationale for deregulation. As a group, the design professions, including architects and engineers, have few disciplinary actions taken by their licensing board. Landscape architects have a similar rate of disciplinary action (per licensee), and since there are fewer landscape architects, the overall numbers can be quite low—creating a red flag for those looking for a reason to deregulate. For whatever reason decision makers in your state choose to deregulate the profession, it is imperative that you are prepared to fight back in an organized and coordinated manner. Here are a few tips as you and your chapter prepare for these threats in advance.
What can you do to prepare?
RESEARCH: Does your governor have a Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring? Often these efforts will be where deregulatory language originates. Familiarize yourself with the proposal and find out whether it “has legs”—meaning will it become a legislative proposal? Or can the governor make administrative actions that could do harm to your licenses? In addition visit ASLA’s Bill Tracking tool to familiarize yourself with bills that affect the profession that have been introduced in your state. Finally, identify key legislators (potential allies) and committees that have jurisdiction over issues of importance to your chapter, including licensing and regulatory enforcement.
PLAN: Convene a meeting of your executive committee or government affairs committee with your lobbyist or government affairs consultant to review legislation of interest and to identify threats and opportunities in the upcoming session. Don’t have a lobbyist? Check in with allied professionals in your state to gather intelligence, and consider joining a coalition that could provide you and your chapter political intelligence and access to legislators at little to no cost. Also look at the legislative calendar to make sure you are aware of bill deadlines, recesses, and more to ensure that your chapter’s legislative activity will be as effective as possible.
IMPLEMENT: Schedule meetings with key legislators before your session starts. Identify key contacts among chapter members that can be called upon to reach out to your allies and legislators who run your key committees. Don’t forget to use ASLA’s Advocacy Network to reach out to grassroots supporters in your chapter and state(s). ASLA National can help provide editable talking points and materials to use in meetings with state legislators.
If you are looking for guidance please don’t hesitate to contact Director of Government Affairs Julia Lent, Hon. ASLA, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.216.2330, or Legislative Analyst Kevin O’Hara, email@example.com, 202.216.2370.
For more on ASLA’s licensure efforts and Beyond 50 by 2010, visit www.asla.org/licensure.