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New Survey: Consumers Concerned About Rush to Eliminate Professional Licensing

New Survey: Consumers Concerned About Rush to Eliminate Professional Licensing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL) today announced the results of a national survey that indicated widespread public support for maintaining rigorous professional licensing standards for professions that have a clear impact on public health, safety and welfare. These findings were announced as many state legislatures are considering broad proposals to overhaul or eliminate state licensing requirements in the current legislative session.

Legislation weakening state professional licensing requirements was introduced in the West Virginia legislature earlier this month. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in other states in the coming weeks and months.  

Eliminating licensing has become a top priority of groups such as the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, with model legislative proposals that include the complete elimination of all professional and occupational licensing.

The survey was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and yielded these key findings:

  • 75% of voters believe that it is important to ensure qualifications for professionals in certain industries. A majority of voters believe that current professional licensing requirements protect the public and should not be reformed.
  • More than 70% of voters believe that regulating professionals in accounting, engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, and related fields with high impact on public safety and welfare is important.
  • 71% of voters believe professional licensing should be required unless it can be proven that eliminating licensing will not have a negative impact on public health and safety. The public is wary of the alternative approach: requiring licensing only when it is proven necessary for health and safety.
  • 67% of voters believe that consumers are best protected by a system that regulates education, examination and experience standards—all of which are overseen by a professional licensing board.

“An overwhelming, bipartisan majority of the American people understand that professional licensing is rigorous for good reason and they want to keep it that way,” said Skip Braziel, a member of the ARPL, who also serves as Vice President for State Regulatory and Legislative Affairs at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). “Consumers want to know that the professionals they hire are qualified and as this survey makes clear, voters want to see responsible licensing protected.”

“The public recognizes the critical role that licensing and licensing boards play in protecting the public,” said Marta Zaniewski, an ARPL member who also serves as the Assistant Vice President of External Engagement for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). “This is why consumers are understandably wary of the anti-licensing proposals being floated in their state capitals. Licensing boards not only establish qualifications for a profession, but act on the public’s behalf to uphold the highest standards for our profession and take action against bad practitioners. This indispensable public protection role will be lost if licensing is eliminated.”

You can read the survey summary here.