Update as of January 28, 2021
As an update to the membership, I submit the following:
During the past 18 months, the FSEA Board and Licensure committee have been working diligently towards greeting an SE License in Florida. As many of you already know similar legislation has been passed in both Oklahoma and Georgia in the past two years. We have been working with our lobbyists Jeff Kottkamp (former Lt. Governor of Florida) and Barney Bishop (Director on FEMC Board) to ensure passage of our bill during this year's legislative session (March 2 - April 30, 2021).
We made an effort to pass the bill last year which was not successful because then House Committee Chair Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers) (she was term limited and is no longer in the House) listened to her Staff Director who believed that the concept of the bill violated the Governors announced intention of deregulating professions.
Here is where we stand with the bill as of today (January29, 2021):
- The Senate version of the substantive bill has been filed by last year's sponsor, Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) – SB 572 – and, as of January 21st, it has been assigned to three (3) committees:
Commerce & Tourism
- Last year however, the Senate Staff Analysis cited the fact that this bill because it imposed a new fee should have had an accompanying "fee bill" that goes with the substantive bill, because technically the original bill as drafted violated a Constitutional amendment on the "single-subject" requirement which states that the imposition, authorizations, or raising of a state tax or fee under Article VII, Section 19 of the Florida Constitution requires a separate fee bill to travel along with the substantive bill.
- This year, Sen. Baxley, at the behest of the Senate Bill Drafting office, has filed a fee bill – SB 574 – that will travel alongside the main bill through the committee process to the floor...we do not expect any opposition to the bill inasmuch as the engineering profession is requesting this new designation.
- The House version of the substantive bill has been filed by Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa), the only licensed engineer in either legislative chamber, and is currently awaiting a bill number...that should happen any day now...once that happens then within 2 weeks the bill will be assigned to committees...
- As with the Senate bill, there has to be a Fee Bill in the House as well, that counts as 2 bills against the limit of 7 bills that every House member can file. Rep. Toledo already has committed to filing 6 other bills, so we, and her, have been talking to other House members to see if one of them would file the Fee Bill....one House member, a freshman Democrat in Tampa – Rep. Andrew Learned (freshman democrat from Tampa), has agreed that he would sponsor the Fee Bill.
- Both the substantive and fee bills have been submitted to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) for their review, as we did last year. Last year DBPR did not object to the bill and we expect DBPR to take the same position this year.
- Governor Jeff Kottkamp and Barney Bishop have already met last fall with the Governor's Legislative Affairs staff to make them aware of this issue and to explain that this bill does not fly in the face of the Governor's deregulation push. We hope that our conversation with the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG) will send a message that this bill is not viewed unfavorably by the Governor.
- We are continuing to follow up with the EOG and DBPR.
- We expect the Senate bill to be heard in its first committee sometime next month
SE Licensure Executive Summary
FSEA has been working since 2007 to establish a structural engineering (SE) license in the state of Florida. Rationale for this additional level of accreditation include:
- Increasing size and complexity of current building codes and standards compared to decades past.
- Decreasing redundancies and safety factors arising from well-intended efforts to reduce construction costs.
- Reduction in engineering curriculum requirements in a field that has become more specialized.
- Significant potential for injuries and loss of human life should a structure fail.
SEI, CASE, NCSEA, and NCEES have all agreed that an enhanced 16-hour examination focused on structures is the best path toward ensuring that the design of structures protects the safety, health and welfare of the public. This exam has been available in Florida since 2011, but under current law, it is not (and cannot be) required for those seeking to become licensed Professional Engineers (PE) who perform structural design.
- The applicant for the SE license would need to have passed the 16-hour NCEES Structural exam and show four years of active structural engineering experience.
- The 16-hour exam would also qualify as the exam for PE licensure, which could be applied for simultaneously.
- ALL CURRRENT PEs DESIGNING STRUCTURES WOULD BE “GRANDFATHERED” IN AS SEs. Prior to the 2017 PE renewal period, Florida PEs who sign an affidavit attesting that they have been practicing structural engineering will not be required to pass the 16-hour exam.
- “Threshold Buildings,” as already defined by Florida law, will need to be designed by a licensed SE. All structures below that threshold may be designed by a licensed PE (practicing within their area of expertise) as currently required by Florida law.