Legislative Alert: Landscape Architecture License at Risk

Legislative Alert: Landscape Architecture License at Risk

ncasla legislative






To North Carolina ASLA members and non-members,

There has been recent activity regarding the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee – Program Evaluation Division (PED) work plan. The following is a brief summary of past and current activities related to the “Program Evaluation Division” review of Occupational Licensure in the state of North Carolina.

As you may recall from our previous communications, the NC Legislature directed the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee to include in the Program Evaluation Division (PED) work plan for 2013-2015 an evaluation of the structure, organization, and operation of the various independent occupational licensing boards as defined by G.S. 93B-1.

The purpose of the evaluation was to 1) Consider the feasibility of establishing a single State agency to oversee the administration of all or some of the occupational licensing boards; 2) Determine whether greater efficiency and cost effectiveness can be realized by combining the administrative functions of the boards while allowing the boards to continue performing regulatory functions; and 3) Determine whether the total number of boards should be reduced by combining and/or eliminating some boards.

On December 17, 2014, the PED presented its initial findings and recommendations to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee Click Here to Review the Report . The PED identified 55 Occupational Licensing Agencies that were evaluated, including the North Carolina Board of Landscape Architects (NCBLA). Unfortunately the PED identified NCBLA as one of 12 occupational licensing agencies for further review. This is extremely concerning and NCBLA and NCASLA are taking this very seriously.

On January 2, 2015, NCBLA provided additional information to PED to assist with their evaluation. NCASLA also sent a letter to the PED emphasizing that the sole purpose of licensing landscape architects is to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

Since January 2, 2015 we have monitored this issue and when the opportunity has presented itself, we have continued to communicate NCASLA’s positon. There were signs that it simply may not ever move forward, signs it would continue in some other form, and signs that it would proceed as originally submitted. It appears now, that this issue is moving forward as originally planned.

On January 16, 2016 the inaugural APO Occupational Licensing Board Oversight Subcommittee was held. Our lobbyists attended this meeting and provided the following summary. There were several comments made that our lobbyists thought we should be aware of and it definitely looks like there will be more scrutiny in the months between now and upcoming legislative session regarding whether the 12 OLAs will have their licensing authority stripped.

Lobbyists Summary:

  • Wells chaired the meeting
  • All meeting materials are availablehere
  • Chuck Hefren of the Program Evaluation Division (PED) gave the attached powerpoint and comments, which included the following:
    • An overview of Occupational Licensing Agencies (OLAs), what they do generally and why we have them.
    • An overview of the PED’s findings when they recently studied NC’s OLAs as well as their six recommendations.
    • He explained that his team determined that “a list of 12 occupational licensing boards exist that no longer justify licensing authority,” including NCBLA.
    • His 6 recommendations, which he described in detail to the committee members (who have authority to draft legislation on this topic and introduce it beginning in April), were:
  1. Create an OLA Commission.
  2. Amend state law to more clearly list all existing OLAs and existing reporting requirements.
  3. Establish OLA complaint processing requirements.
  4. Require periodic audits of key regulatory activities and associated performance measurement data.
  5. Conduct a review to justify continued licensing authority for the 12 identified OLAs (NCBLA on this list)
  6. Consolidate the operations of the 10 identified OLAs that they thought should be consolidated.
  • Committee members seemed very responsive to his recommendations, praised him for his work and mentioned that they were eager to push this issue further down the road in the next meeting (strongly implying that they would bring legislation this year to carry out some or all of PED’s six recommendations).
  • Becki Gray and Jon Sanders from the John Locke Foundation (a very well loved group with today’s Republican majority) provided lengthy comments. Meeting materials are available here
  • Bill Rowe of the NC Justice Center then gave a presentation (no powerpoint)

       End of Summary

The subcommittee will meet again on February 2nd. NCASLA President Zak Pierce, NCASLA lobbyists, and I will be attending the meeting with prepared comments on why landscape architects should not be on the list of 12. NCASLA lobbyists will also make similar remarks along with us. NCASLA is coordinating with the North Carolina Board of Landscape Architects and we expect that they will also be attending the meeting with prepared comments.

We will be working proactively to meet with the Sub-committee assigned to evaluate the list of 12 (Item #5 above).

You are likely asking “What can I do to help?”

  • If you see an email from NCASLA – read it. NCASLA or NCBLA may be soliciting your help to sign a letter, or complete an online form to send to your Legislator or members of the PED committee.
  • This specific issue aside, you can always reach out to your local legislative representative to discuss our profession and share your perspective. It would benefit our efforts more when these types of issues come up, if they know more about whom we are and what we do. It may help to prevent us being on the next list.
  • For all the ASLA Members – Thank you for your continued support.
  • For non-ALSA members – We need your help and support! Become a member and help our profession. What does it say about the state of our profession when nearly half the Licensed Landscape Architects in North Carolina are not members of their own professional association? Half of us are paying to benefit the other half that is not. ASLA has established a monthly payment option to make it easy for individuals to become members. Help protect our licensure…if you are not a member become one today.


NCASLA, ASLA, NCASLA lobbyists, and NCBLA are working collaboratively to address this issue and protect the licensure of landscape architects in North Carolina. We will continue to keep you posted on this extremely important issue.  If you have specific questions, please send them to Debora Steenson at manager@ncasla.org.

Michael Mullis, PLA, ASLA

Past President NCASLA

Member at Large – Legislative Affairs – NCASLA