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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 12:37 am

Pence: Don't kill engineer licensing

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – An effort to eliminate licensing for engineers could be dead before it even got started.

That’s because Gov. Mike Pence has come out against the preliminary recommendation made by a committee tasked to review dozens of Indiana’s licensed professions.

"The governor believes it is a mistake not to license engineers and will make sure the recommendation to do so does not stand," said Kara Brooks, spokeswoman for Pence.

The Jobs Creation Committee has issued preliminary findings on 11 occupations but a more in-depth public hearing will be held Aug. 20. And the Indiana General Assembly would have to eliminate the licensing in the next session.

The engineering recommendation is getting the most attention so far, but hearing aid dealers, auctioneers and home inspectors could also be affected.

The American Council of Engineering Companies sent an email to Indiana firms this week that are part of the trade association saying it will refute the conclusions of the group’s annual report at the upcoming meeting.

The group also urged Pence’s administration to go on the record about the licensing issue, which the governor now has.

The Jobs Creation Committee is working to review the occupations licensed by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.

The agency is an umbrella for 38 boards, commissions and committees, and regulates more than 70 professional licenses. In all, the agency regulates about 470,000 actively licensed professionals, meaning almost 1 in 7 working Hoosiers are licensed by the agency.

In looking at all of the agencies that regulate professions, 1 in 4 Hoosiers must be licensed to go to work every day.

A similar committee in 2011 recommended that engineers remain licensed though licensing fees should be reduced.

Engineers have been licensed in Indiana since 1935. The total number of active licenses with the State Board of Registration of Professional Engineers is 35,253, which includes 11,789 professional engineers.

In 2010, the state board added continuing education requirements for engineers – 30 hours every two years.

The Jobs Creation Committee report said "the welfare of all Hoosiers working in metropolitan areas is at stake if the state’s infrastructure, buildings, etc. are not properly constructed."

The annual report wasn’t clear on what the recommended changes are to engineer licensing but draft minutes of the meeting were.

By a 5-0 vote, the committee recommended Indiana no longer oversee or administer engineering licenses. The minutes note only one license has been revoked since 2008.

"It is the JCC’s opinion that there is adequate regulatory oversight from other governmental agencies when it comes to the work performed by the engineer in their construction/design," the draft minutes said.

nkelly@jg.net