James.qxp Nov Dec 2018 web - Page 38

health and welfare and more than 190,000 licenses.
Professional engineers have also long discussed
options that would allow the Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors (PELS) Board to provide the higher level
of service necessary to better protect public safety. But
seeing the recent trend of other professions achieving or
attempting to gain independence made it clear that the
problem was not unique to professional engineers.
That is why the engineering industry got behind H.R.
1347 by Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, to create a
Professional Licensing Boards Operations & Funding
Study Committee to explore a more comprehensive solution that would allow each professional licensing board to
determine the service level it would like to provide its
licensees, to determine what that service level would cost
and then to set a licensing fee that would pay for that cost.
Engineers have been licensed in Georgia since 1937,
making the PELS Board one of Georgia’s oldest licensing
boards. Engineers believe that if the state were setting
up professional licensing boards today from scratch, the
best system would be to create just this type of “user fee”
system. Each profession could then determine the administrative support structure that best meets its needs and
then have the members of that profession bear the costs
of administering that system (rather than all taxpayers) in
the form of their own licensure fees. That’s how engineer
licensure is done in our surrounding neighbor states.
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We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Best practices
are all around us.
We also believe that appropriate checks and balances should be put in place to ensure that service levels and fees are reasonable and do not create an unnecessary barrier to entry for any licensed profession. For
example, let’s have an annual audit and report to the
General Assembly (which has the appropriations power)
and governor’s office (the governor appoints the members of all state licensing boards). In addition, provide
funding for the existing Georgia Occupational
Regulatory Review Council to provide better and more
frequent oversight of occupational licensing.
Georgia’s engineering industry looks forward to
working with Representative Harrell and the members of
the study committee— as well as representatives from
other licensed professions and the next governor and
secretary of state— to find a fiscally conservative “user
fee” system that will provide a better level of service for
each of the more than 500,000 hard-working Georgians
whose livelihoods depend on fast, fair and efficiently
managed professional licensing.
Michael “Sully” Sullivan serves as the President and CEO of the
American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia (ACEC
Georgia). Jennifer Larosa is the Senior Manager of Government and
External Affairs for the ATL Transit Authority.
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