Profession’s big win ensures protecting the CPA license

OSCPA staff report

CPAs dodged a legislative bullet this week, as Ohio lawmakers voted in lame duck session to provide a safe harbor for the profession from a new policy intended to reduce workforce barriers. Without that change, CPAs could have been forced to again obtain multiple state licenses.

An update on FASB Simplification InitiativeSenate Bill 255 requires that, over a six-year cycle, the Ohio General Assembly review all occupational licensing boards to see if their continued existence – and related continued licensure of professionals – is necessary to protect the public interest. The bill gives legislators the power to recommend changes – ranging from more limited licensure requirements to no licensure at all – when they think licensure requirements go beyond the least restrictive means to protect the health, safety or welfare of the public. All licensing bodies must receive a vote by the full Legislature once every six years to continue.

At the urging of The Ohio Society of CPAs, certified public accountants became the lone profession earning a safe harbor from changes to the profession’s laws and regulations.

This is a significant victory, said Barbara Benton, CAE, OSCPA’s vice president of government relations.

“The CPA profession currently is the only one where more than 50 U.S. states and territories have adopted interstate mobility laws, ensuring CPAs won’t have to get multiple state licenses if they occasionally provide services in non-resident states,” she said. “Bill sponsors recognized the significant benefits of maintaining substantially equivalent licensing and mobile practice laws, which in turn allows Ohio CPAs to have largely regulation-free interstate mobility.”

OSCPA also worked with bill sponsors to ensure that state government would not take over private-sector voluntary professional certification programs, such as Certified Fraud Examiners, Business Valuation Specialists, Certified Financial Planners and many more.

Organizations representing CPAs, insurance agents, professional engineers, educators, auctioneers and more expressed concerns that the bill could open the door for essential occupational licensing boards to be disbanded, in turn hurting consumers. A drafting error in the original bill that was later revised in the House also raised concerns of many non-profit organizations.

The Ohio House’s 56-28 floor vote on Am. Sub. S.B. 255 took place Dec. 13, and the Senate voted 24-8 on Dec. 19  to concur with House changes. The bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his consideration.

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