In spring 2018, ASAE was alerted to legislation in Louisiana that, if enacted, would potentially prohibit many professionals in the state from identifying themselves as holding a professional certification. Louisiana House Bill 748, the Occupational Licensing Review Act, was introduced in March and passed the House by a large margin. Association professionals in Louisiana and organizations around the country weighed in on this issue to highlight the value of certification.
In early May, House Bill 748 passed the Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee with all language related to certification and registration removed. The committee—along with Rep. Julie Emerson, who authored the bill, and the governor’s office—amended the bill to incorporate all changes that the association community had requested. The measure was further amended to provide for the governor's office to review only 20 percent of the agencies engaged in regulatory and licensing activities over the next five years. ASAE is pleased that Rep. Emerson was receptive to changes after hearing from the association community.
Missouri House Bill 1719, the Professional Employer Organization Act, was signed into law June 1, 2018. ASAE believes this bill contains language that is detrimental to both credentialing programs that are incorporated into state licensure laws (such as in the medical and accounting fields) and voluntary certifications that are not required to practice an occupation in any state but demonstrate an individual’s professional knowledge and competence in a field (such as ASAE’s CAE credential). The bill’s signing was expected, as it was wrapped into an omnibus package that required passage before the legislature ended its session.
ASAE has had productive discussions with staff at the Missouri legislature and will continue to pursue a fix that addresses our concern. Additionally, ASAE will be working with a coalition of like-minded organizations concerned about state certification/licensing legislation around the country and will keep the association community informed when there are developments that warrant attention.
Plans by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to make changes to the District’s paid-leave bill passed in December 2016, one of the most generous in the nation, have been tabled for now. Mendelson did not rule out future changes, but at this point ASAE advises all DC-based associations to budget for the 0.62 percent payroll tax on all employees that is set to go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Employees would not be able to access the paid-leave benefit until July 1, 2020, at the earliest, and it will likely be later, as technical delays are common with new government programs. The DC Department of Employment Services posted proposed paid-leave regulations on March 31, 2018.
ASAE has consistently suggested that an employer mandate model would best serve employees and employers. We continue to have serious concerns that the current legislation will result in reduced or eliminated benefits packages for many District employees and will create a government-run program that will be difficult for employees to navigate during challenging times in their lives.
A 2015 Supreme Court decision regarding state antitrust laws in North Carolina may have an impact on associations. In North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, the Supreme Court found that a regulatory board is exempt from federal antitrust laws regarding “state action” only if the organization is actively supervised by the state. According to a report by Pillsbury, federal antitrust laws are meant to prohibit anticompetitive restrictions on trade, but there is an exemption for states that act in their sovereign capacity. The Supreme Court found that a state must oversee such a board if a state is to rely on “active market participants” as regulators. This decision is relevant to the association community, as it may affect organizations that are delegated or act pursuant to any governmental authority.
In this case, the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners issued cease-and-desist letters to non-dentists who were providing teeth-whitening services. The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against the Board in 2010 alleging anticompetitive conduct and unfair competition. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit sided with the FTC and found that the board was not sufficiently overseen by the state to make the actions “state actions.” The Supreme Court also found that the board was not supervised by the state.