Legislative threat to CPA licensure stalls in West Virginia

April 19, 2021

By Anita Dennis, Journal of Accountancy

When a bill that would have weakened the requirements for occupational licensing failed to become law recently in West Virginia, the accounting profession achieved a significant victory in its efforts to protect the rigor and standards associated with CPA licensure.

House Bill 2007 in West Virginia would have diminished occupational licensing requirements as they apply to individual reciprocity, including those that apply to CPAs.

A coalition of professional and regulatory associations led by the AICPA, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the state board of accountancy, and the state CPA society worked to defeat the bill, but the battle to maintain appropriate licensing standards is not over.

A growing trend
The proposed legislation in West Virginia is part of a rising trend seen across the country to minimize occupational licensing rules. The reasons given for the bipartisan effort include desires to reduce regulation and to find the “silver bullet” for reciprocity, according to Marta Zaniewski, AICPA vice president–State Regulatory & Legislative Affairs. Supporters of these efforts have also cited concerns about unemployment and economic disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the AICPA was tracking about 60 such efforts, while today it is monitoring around 179.

The proposals seen across the country typically mix in a variety of occupations. Although vocational occupations don’t have the same robust education, examination, experience, and continuing education requirements as CPAs and other learned professions, “these bills would lump us together,” said Judy Proctor, CPA, CGMA, the CEO of the West Virginia Society of CPAs.

In some cases, “legislators don’t take into account the prestige and respect for the CPA license and don’t understand the consequences that this kind of legislation will have,” said Megan Kueck, lead manager–State Regulation & Legislation at the AICPA.

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