Associations Get Snagged by States Scrutinizing Licensing

Certifications Associations Now July/August 2018 Issue By: Chris Vest, CAE

The CAE and other association credentials are a different animal than professional licenses, ASAE told lawmakers looking to reform occupational licensing rules in several states last spring.

ASAE and other associations are tracking a proliferation of occupational licensing reform bills in the states, some of which have unintentionally encroached on voluntary certification programs.

In Louisiana and Missouri earlier this year, legislation intended to loosen occupational licensing requirements threatened to impact nongovernmental professional certifications administered by many associations. In Louisiana, the bill was amended to address concerns raised by ASAE and many other associations. In Missouri, legislation was passed and signed into law before industry concerns could be addressed. ASAE is talking with Missouri legislative staff about whether there’s a fix that clarifies the value of voluntary certification but doesn’t require corrective legislation.

Recently, occupational licensing reform was the subject of a congressional hearing as well. Lawmakers on the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development heard testimony June 20 on occupational licensing and its effects on economic growth. They acknowledged that the issue should be left primarily to the states to determine whether over-regulation is creating barriers to employment.

“Occupational licensing plays an important role in protecting consumers and ensuring high-quality service,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), who chairs the subcommittee. “In many cases, it makes sense that a professional would be credentialed to operate, like in the case of a doctor performing surgery or a pilot flying a commercial plane. But in other instances, the need for a license is more of a stretch.”

Robert McNamara, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, testified at the hearing that voluntary certification is “one of the most important, and often overlooked, alternatives to occupational licensing.”

ASAE believes strongly that nongovernmental professional credentialing is vital to America’s workforce and allows professionals to demonstrate their professional capability and understanding of their field. In both Louisiana and Missouri, the threat to voluntary certification may have been unintentional, but ASAE is working to ensure that these types of professional credentials are not devalued.

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Associations in the Hot Seat?”]


Chris Vest, CAE

Chris Vest, CAE, is director of public policy at ASAE.