50 means 50: Licensure Reaches Milestone in Vermont
Vermont Governor Jim Douglas signs licensure law.
After more than six years of hard work and persistence, the Vermont ASLA can celebrate victory with passage of licensure legislation for landscape architects. Although the Green Mountain State was an unlikely place for the lone hold-out, a strict sunrise process was a stubborn barrier to success. The chapter initiated the sunrise application three times, only to suffer the same conclusion: no regulation necessary. This result was due in a large part to the fact that no blood-and-guts cases were found in Vermont itself, although the chapter produced evidence that demonstrated the link between landscape architecture and the public health, safety, and welfare.
It is clear that as time wore on, legislators were more open to the idea of licensure, especially as the practice acts were passed across the country and as Vermont stood as the only state without any regulation. The chapter worked diligently to ensure that the bill minimized impact on other professions, enabling the bill to move ahead without opposition from any special interest. In 2009, the legislation passed the Senate with strong support. However, the sunrise decisions continued to stall the bill in the House. In the end, the primary driver of success was the profession of landscape architecture itself. The growth of its influence and expected growth in numbers convinced policymakers that the potential for harm from unlicensed, unqualified individuals will only grow with time. This argument helped craft the compromise that won the day. A provision for sunset review was added, through which an analysis of licensure and its impact on the public health, safety, and welfare will occur in 2013.
The 50 by 2010 Licensure Campaign was created by ASLA in 2000 to direct concentrated resources to enact practice acts. At the time, only 30 states regulated the practice of landscape architecture and there were four states with no regulation at all. Vermont becomes the 17th state to enact a practice act during the campaign, for a total of 47 practice acts. Further, it certainly is worth celebrating that Vermont is the final state to achieve regulation of the profession.
Congratulations to Vermont ASLA, which maintained a vigorous, multifaceted, and determined effort, even when faced with long odds.