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DEMA Legislative Alert – Louisiana Bill Poses Threat to Professional Certification Programs

DEMA is urging training organizations, dive retailers, and independent diving instructors to contact state legislators on a pending bill that would severely restrict the use of professional certifications in the state.

Louisiana House Bill 748, the “Occupational Licensing Review Act,” would prohibit use of the terms “certification” and “registration” for nongovernmental professional credentialing unless state law requires certification or registration to work in the profession (as in the medical field, for example).

DEMA’s contact with the general counsel firm for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, concluded in a client memo that the proposed legislation “could be disastrous” for nongovernmental certifications.

“In particular, HB 748’s definitions for the term ‘certification’ effectively prohibits certified professionals from holding themselves out as such unless such certification is a requirement for state occupational licensure,” Pillsbury writes. For the diving community, if enacted, this bill would prohibit certified instructors, divemasters/dive cons, rescuers, equipment repair professionals and others from acknowledging their professional credentials in offering their services to the public. Conversely, these professional statuses would cease – by law – being dive community standards that exist for the protection of the public, with the potential result that diving education and services could more easily be offered by untrained individuals.

DEMA is joining ASAE and other associations to oppose the bill. The bill, authored by Louisiana State Rep. Julie Emerson (R), has already advanced through the Louisiana House of Representatives and is slated for consideration by the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and International Affairs Committee in the next several days. Without significant opposition, the bill could pass before the Legislature’s targeted mid-May adjournment.

DEMA is working to deliver a letter of its own to Rep. Emerson this week and urges DEMA members in Louisiana who are concerned about this bill to contact their member of the state senate and voice their opposition to HB 748. To find contact information for your state senator by name, district, parish or address click here.