AICPA and 11 Additional Organizations Support Bill That Protects Public Service on State Licensing Boards
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AICPA and 11 Additional Organizations Support Bill That Protects Public Service on State Licensing Boards

1 year ago · 2 min read

The “Occupational Licensing Board Antitrust Damages Relief Act of 2020” protects public servants from legal damages while also allowing for enforcement of anti-trust laws.

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2020 – The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and 11 additional organizations today sent a letter (attached) to Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Michael Conaway (R-TX) and David Cicilline (D-RI) in support of the Occupational Licensing Board Antitrust Damages Relief Act of 2020, which protects state licensing boards, their board members and staff from legal damages occurring from their public service. AICPA strongly believes that the threat of damage awards should not deter individuals’ civil service on licensing boards, such as state boards of accountancy.

The bi-partisan bill still allows for enforcement of anti-trust laws by federal and private entities and sets certain standards for licensing boards if they are to be immune from damages. These standards include:

  • Operate under a state law that requires an occupational license for the occupation regulated by the board, specifies the qualifications for the license, and requires that professional and ethical standards be met;

  • Have all members of the board appointed by the state’s chief executive officer, the legislature, or other designated elected state officer;

  • Include members of the public who are not market participants in the regulated profession; and

  • Provide mechanisms allowing people aggrieved by the board to contest its actions.

“State licensing boards provide an invaluable service to the public, and it is critical that those who serve on the boards, as well as the staff who support them, do so without the fear of punitive damages. We thank Representatives Raskin, Conaway and Cicilline for addressing this real threat,” said Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO. “Licensing boards for the accounting profession are committed to keeping the public safe. They develop codes of ethics that protect the public interest and set continuing education criteria so CPAs stay current on their knowledge. Importantly, accountancy boards also enforce compliance with laws and professional standards. The work of all boards is so important, and we cannot risk losing qualified and committed board members due to the risk of personal liability.”

In 2015, in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the North Carolina Dental Board was not entitled to “state action” immunity from antitrust laws because its actions were not actively supervised by the state. The AICPA has been actively working with Congress to raise concern about the impact of this ruling on licensed professions and those who serve on licensing boards. AICPA believes that the Occupational Licensing Board Antitrust Damages Relief Act of 2020 creates a balance between enforcing anti-competitive activities and licensing boards’ uncertainty over potential personal liability arising from public service.

The additional organizations that signed the letter are:

  • American Physical Therapy Association

  • American Psychological Association

  • American Veterinary Medical Association

  • Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

  • Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards

  • Federation of Podiatric Medical Boards

  • Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy

  • Federation of State Medical Boards

  • National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

  • National Athletic Trainers’ Association Board of Certification, Inc.

  • National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc.


Media Contact:

Kathy King
202-434-9210
Kathy.King@aicpa-cima.com

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