Read the latest edition of NASBA's Legislative E-News
Read the latest edition of NASBA's Legislative E-News
September 2017
Dear Anthony:
Prior to the Congressional August recess, U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Ben Sasse (R-NE), together with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49), introduced S. 1649 / H.R. 3446, The Restoring Board Immunity (RBI) Act, a bill that undermines the public protection mandate of Boards of Accountancy. The legislation is designed to offer states (and their state licensing boards) two pathways to antitrust immunity in the wake of the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC. Rather than recognizing the vital role regulatory boards play in public protection, the bill's sponsors are encouraging states to examine, modify, and/or eliminate their occupational licensing regulations in exchange for immunity. This effort is framed by the sponsors as a way to reduce barriers to free-market competition, but that premise is misleading and threatens the expertise that ensures the credibility of the financial markets and all of the industries they touch.  
The two antitrust immunity pathways afforded by the legislation are:
1)      Active Supervision and Periodic Review
a.    Includes creation of State Office of Supervision of Occupational Boards, tasked with day-to-day board supervision of licensing authorities
b.    Creates a state mechanism for periodic review of existing occupational regulations every five years, sunrise review of proposed new occupational regulations under a “least restrictive alternative” standard of review, and for publication of annual reports detailing review findings, analysis, and non-binding recommendations to legislators and regulators
2)      Judicial Review
a.    Creates a cause of action under state law that provides for judicial review of licensing laws and board actions under an intermediate scrutiny standard
The introduction and attention paid to this legislation is unsurprising given the growing emphasis placed on occupational licensing reform by the Federal Trade Commission (https://www.ftc.gov/policy/advocacy/economic-liberty) and think tanks like the Institute for Justice, Heritage Foundation, and the Mercatus Center. While State Boards of Accountancy are not the focal point of this effort, proposals such as The RBI Act could certainly have a negative impact, and hinder State Accountancy Boards’ ability to protect the public.  
Additional materials related to the legislation are available at:
NASBA, AICPA and the Professional Licensing Coalition (PLC) are monitoring this legislation closely, and meeting with the sponsors and House/Senate Judiciary Committee staff. NASBA staff is also studying similar legislation that has been introduced in state legislatures over the past several years that highlight the fiscal impact of these mechanisms.  
While no action is needed on your part now, we hope that each Board of Accountancy will review this legislation and determine the potential impact on the state and on your board (whether fiscally, operationally or otherwise). Should the legislation progress or be considered at a future hearing, we may call upon you to weigh in with your congressional delegation. 
Should you have any questions about the bill, please contact John Johnson, Director of Legislative and Governmental Affairs, at jjohnson@nasba.org.
Other Related Articles:
The United States House of Representatives
Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

Hearing - Occupational Licensing: Regulation and Competition

September 12, 2017

On September 12, 2017, the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will hold a hearing to examine the antitrust concerns surrounding the dramatic expansion of state occupational licensing regimes.

Click here to read NASBAs joint statement to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law

Missouri Governor Greitens Creates Task Force to Shrink Government  
Governor Eric Greitens created a new task force designed to shrink government by taking aim at Missouri’s boards and commissions. Since taking office, Governor Greitens has made it a priority to reduce the size of government and eliminate bureaucratic red tape. This task force will evaluate the purpose and results of each existing board and commission in the state. The Boards and Commissions Task Force will determine the effectiveness of each board and commission, identify opportunities to eliminate, consolidate, or modify their structures wherever possible.
The task force, established by Executive Order, will submit recommendations for comprehensive reform proposals on both the executive and legislative levels no later than October 31, 2017. 
Other Related Articles:
Jeff Sessions Responds to Governors' Marijuana Enforcement Inquiry with Questions of His Own
In April 2017, the Governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to reiterate the importance of the 2013 Cole memo to U.S. attorneys (outlining federal enforcement priorities in the wake of state marijuana legalization) and to request that the Trump Administration engage with these states before making any changes to federal marijuana enforcement priorities. In response, Attorney General Sessions wrote to Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Robert Ferguson asking them to explain how Washington State plans to respond to a 2016 report that called into question their state’s marijuana regulatory regime. In effect, Sessions has revealed his own doubts about states’ ability to properly implement a robust regulatory system that can adequately protect public health and safety. This recent exchange has further exacerbated the uncertainty surrounding marijuana legalization by states and the implications for practitioners and, ultimately, State Boards of Accountancy.  Click here to read both letters.
Missouri Attest Legislation Signed Into Law
In May 2014, the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) revised the definition of attest to include any examination, review or agreed-upon procedure performed using the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE). 
By the end of 2016, 41 jurisdictions had adopted the updated, comprehensive definition of attest, which included 11 jurisdictions in 2016. In 2017, nine state legislatures filed attest legislation, with seven of those having their legislation signed into law.   
Attest Legislation Signed into law in 2017: Arkansas (3/1/17); Utah (3/21/17); New Mexico (3/21/17); Idaho (4/16/17); Nevada (5/9/17); Vermont (5/23/17) and Missouri (6/23/17).
Number of Jurisdictions that have adopted Attest legislation: 48
To view the Attest legislation filed in these nine jurisdictions in 2017, click on the above “LEGISLATION BY TOPIC” link and then on the “Attest” button. 
Florida, Illinois and Missouri's Firm Mobility Signed Into Law
In May 2014, the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) was revised to include firm mobility. Prior to the inclusion of firm mobility in the UAA, 14 states had previously adopted the principle.
By the end of 2016, 16 jurisdictions had adopted firm mobility (Washington State and Louisiana adopted firm mobility in 2016). In 2017, nine jurisdictions filed firm mobility legislation, with seven of those having their legislation signed into law. 
Firm Mobility Signed into law in 2017: New Mexico (3/7/17); Montana (3/21/17); Iowa (4/20/17); Vermont (5/23/17); Missouri (6/23/17); Florida (6/26/17) and Illinois (8/25/17). 
Number of Jurisdictions Adopted Firm Mobility: 23
To view the Firm Mobility legislation filed in these nine jurisdictions in 2017, click on the above “LEGISLATION BY TOPIC” link and then on the “Firm Mobility” button.  
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