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State Board Report

March 2016

Explaining how the accountancy profession is distinct from other occupations when it comes to why it is regulated – and defending why those regulations must be preserved have become primary goals of the Legislative Support Committee, chaired by Sharon A. Jensen (MN) and assisted by NASBA Legislative and Governmental Affairs Director John Johnson. Ms. Jensen and Mr. Johnson are developing a white paper to help educate legislators on the significant differences between the licensing practices that are drawing criticism and those of CPAs being regulated by Boards of Accountancy.

"Over the last two decades," Mr. Johnson explained, "occupational licensing has grown sharply. And how licensure has been implemented by other professions as a barrier to competition has legislators confused about the merits of licensure for professions as critical to the public trust as accountancy." Responding to recent legislation and opinions by attorneys general that have spiked since the North Carolina Dental Board case decision in February 2015, Mr. Johnson told a February Regional conference call: "Legislators are including entire departments of licensed professions into their proposed bills that seek to dismantle necessary regulation. These critics of licensing have brought up, for example, ‘hair braiders’ and tour guides as fields equivalent to accountants. We need to ensure that there is no confusion about the fact that our regulations are not barriers to competition, but safeguards for the public and the financial systems that accountants serve. We have to lead the charge in differentiating accountancy from the other professions."

Mr. Johnson reports that this year seven states have introduced bills in response to the North Carolina Dental Board case decision (Alabama, Connecticut, Idaho, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and South Dakota). The December 10, 2015, NASBA webinar on the implications of the Dental Board decision, along with other guidance written in response to the decision, can be found on this website.

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