ASAE Cofounds Group Defending Certifications

The Professional Certification Coalition, created by ASAE and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, is responding to statehouse challenges to voluntary professional credentials.

Earlier this year, Louisiana and Missouri introduced legislation that challenges the authority of many professionals holding credentials granted by associations and other groups. To speak out against what it sees as a trend that will likely expand nationwide, ASAE and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence have partnered to create a new group, the Professional Certification Coalition.

By forming a coalition, we’re more organized as a whole.

“In recent months we have seen challenges to voluntary professional credentialing across the country,” ASAE said in a statement last week announcing PCC’s creation. “While we have had success in some states in pushing back against this legislation, we know that 12 states introduced bills concerning to the association community this year. We expect to see more legislation introduced around the country in January when many state legislatures begin their work for 2019.”

In May, ASAE was one of a number of associations that challenged Louisiana House Bill 748, which included language that would have prevented those holding voluntary certifications (such as ASAE’s CAE credential) from using the term “certified” in their title. While that language was ultimately removed from the final bill, that same month Missouri passed legislation restricting the use of “certification” to government functions. ASAE has discussed possible changes to the law with Missouri legislators.

“When HB-748 was introduced in Louisiana, we were immediately alarmed,” said Emily Bowers, senior coordinator of public policy for the International Association of Lighting Designers, a founding PCC member. “We’ve seen this legislation in other states as well, so it’s certainly becoming a trend. Which is why we wanted to partner with the coalition so that we could get ahead of it before 2019.”

Because similar legislation is anticipated in other states, Bowers said, the need for a group like PCC to demonstrate the scope of the concern is increasingly urgent. “Groups who have helped push this sort of thing along in states such as Louisiana and Missouri are doing a disgraceful amount of damage to a multitude of organizations,” she said. “By forming a coalition, we’re negating the possibility of overduplication of efforts, and we’re more organized as a whole.”

According to ASAE, PCC will provide coalition members with legislative updates and advocacy support in states where credentialing-related legislation is introduced. “PCC will be a nationwide effort to monitor for this legislation, to interface with stakeholders supporting and opposing such legislation, and, in states where necessary, to engage in lobbying with the expectation of replicating the success in Louisiana,” said the statement.

ICE and ASAE will serve as the steering committee for PCC, with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP providing legal support. Through the end of 2018, PCC intends to deliver research and a whitepaper on the issue; work with organizations that share its interests; and host phone, online, and in-person opportunities for members to discuss legislative activity. As necessary, PCC will also offer model responses to pending legislation and provide funding for local lobbyists.

(DNY59/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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