Indiana panel recommends state stop licensing engineers

A state panel that's assessing Indiana's need to oversee dozens of occupations is drawing criticism for recommending that the state stop licensing and regulating engineers.

The Jobs Creation Committee issued preliminary findings earlier this month suggesting that the state end its licensing of 11 occupations, including home inspectors and hearing aid dealers.

But it's the panel's recommendation that Indiana stop regulating engineers that's generated the most attention, even though more public hearings on the proposals are expected and lawmakers would have to approve any changes.

Scott S. Haraburda, president of the Indiana Society of Professional Engineers, is concerned about the panel's suggestion that the state stop licensing engineers. He said that a century ago "anyone could work as an engineer without proof of competency" but every U.S. state currently regulates the practice of engineering to ensure public safety.

"If the recommendations are implemented, Indiana will be the only state that fails to license and regulate its engineers, a dangerous risk that Hoosiers cannot afford to take," he told The Journal Gazette of Lafayette.

The Job Creations Committee is the third such panel created by lawmakers to examine the possible deregulation of several occupations overseen by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. The current committee began work last fall on assessing Indiana's need for more than 200 types of professional licenses, permits and certifications.

The Professional Licensing Agency is an umbrella for 38 boards, commissions and committees and regulates more than 70 professional licenses. Statewide, it regulates about 470,000 actively licensed professionals, meaning it licenses nearly one in seven working Indiana residents.

Professional Licensing Agency spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said the new review committee released its first annual report this month. But he stressed that its recommendations are preliminary and another meeting will occur soon to focus more directly on the proposals.

Aside from engineers, the committee also voted to eliminate licensing for home inspectors, hearing aid dealers and auctioneers, among other occupations.

Rep. Dave Wolkins, a Warsaw Republican who served on the state's original review committee, said he doesn't know specifically about the engineer recommendation, but questioned why engineers would be deregulated but not architects.

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