Legislative Testimony for LB30: Landscape Architect Intern License

Legislative Testimony for LB30: Landscape Architect Intern License

Good Afternoon Chairman Brewer and members of the Committee.  For the Record, my name is Laura Ebke, and I serve as the Senior Fellow for Job Licensing Reform with the Platte Institute.

LB 30 expands and clarifies some elements of the already existing Landscape Architects Licensure. Landscape architects were originally recognized as a profession in Nebraska in 1967, and the current licensing regime was updated and took effect 7 years ago, in 2012. It also creates a new license for “Landscape Architect Interns”. Let me deal with that, first. 

I’m not going to get into a lot of discussion today about the need for licenses for Landscape architects, generally. What I will suggest—with respect to the licensing of interns—is that we seem to have taken this to a whole new level of regulation.  I’m not sure that we want to require people, who by my reading were previously eligible for full license, to have to get a “learners permit” license in order to gain experience and be eligible for a full license.

Now, it may be that it’s important for recent graduates to have some supervised experience. The question is what that supervised experience looks like and is called.

Let me offer an option. As many of you will recall, LB 299 last year was passed with the idea that the Legislature would review its job licensure requirements on a regular basis, and consider whether the state is using the least restrictive means possible. It encouraged using the so-called “inverted pyramid” for considering options.

The so-called “inverted pyramid” from 299 is just the next step from the Shimberg model for determining when the state should regulate. Shimberg’s model, promoted by the Council of State Governments, NCSL, and others is a critical foundational piece for the Uniform Credentialing Act for Health related professions, and is published on the DHHS website. http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/licensure/documents/questions%20a%20legislator%20should%20ask.pdf

I will let future committees discuss the need for Landscape Architect licensure altogether as part of their regular review process. But where the question of interns is concerned, my question is simply this: Why? The interns—according to the bill—are not authorized to practice as a landscape architect, so presumably will be supervised by those who are already licensed. What is the public health or safety interest in adding a license for those who are being supervised?

Why not require a “registration of internship” (if it’s really necessary to require an internship)—have those who are going to be doing an internship submit their resume and the name of their licensed supervisor?  As I read the bill, I see no independent practice capability for the interns. So what you seem to be doing here is creating a new license, which entitles the licensee to nothing, except for fulfilling the internship requirements that you’ve added to the licensure requirement for a Landscape Architect.

Finally, one more comment. This bill adds criminal penalties—a Class I Misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class IV felony for a second and subsequent offense—of someone practicing Landscape Architecture without a license. As one who has some experience with our criminal justice challenges, I get very nervous when new penalties are created. Although I would expect to see civil fines, and civil cause of actions should there be malpractice associated, if this bill is going to go forward in some form, I would encourage you to rethink criminal penalties.

Ultimately, this bill—and several other bills introduced this session—seem to be flying in the face of a nationwide effort to reduce overregulation of occupations. 


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