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Changes To the Engineering Governing Statute - Chapter 471

Monday, March 11, 2019   (0 Comments)
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By: Angelina G. Fairchild, P.E., LEED AP, CXLT
FES - FBPE Liaison

Every year, usually in early February, over 150 members of the Florida Engineering Society (FES) and the Florida chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC-FL) gather in Tallahassee to meet with their legislative Representatives and Senators as part of what is referred to as PE Legislative Days. To some of our members, this event has become an annual pilgrimage aimed at keeping the Florida legislature informed about issues that affect the practice of engineering.

This year’s annual gathering took on a special significance because, for the first time in many years, FES has proposed changes that relate directly to the practice of engineering, to the statute that governs our profession, namely Chapter 471. Companion bills have been filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives by Senator Perry (SB 616) and Representative Toledo (HB 827), respectively.

The proposed bills include changes consistent with Governor DeSantis’s recent “DeRegathon” initiative to lessen the regulatory load on both new applicants and existing Florida Professional Engineers and their businesses, as well as changes to update some outdated provisions and address some overdue clarifications to keep Florida laws current with the standard of practice and the rest of the country. The main topics and changes proposed by these bills are summarized as follows:

  • Allowing recent graduates to sit for the PE exam prior to gaining four years of experience:
    • Eases the burden on applicants by allowing them to take their exam at any time after they graduate and prior to completing their experience requirement for licensure. It also promotes mobility of applicants to Florida who have taken the exam in another state.

  • Allowing graduates from an Engineering Technology University to gain licensure in Florida:
    • Opens up licensure to a larger population which the majority of other states already license who have previously been excluded in Florida thus expanding the talent pool available to Florida businesses and attracting these individuals to come work in Florida.

  • Clarifying the need for a Special Inspector to be limited to when the structural system or structural loading in being modified:
    • Clarifies the current intent which will save building owners significant cost in those jurisdictions that are currently needlessly requiring a Special Inspector for non-structural remodeling.

  • Modifying the Certificate of Authorization section:
    • Lessens the regulatory burden on Florida Engineering Firms by eliminating the requirement for bi-annual renewal and its associated fee.

  • Adding a reinstatement provision for delinquent licenses:
    • Reduces the burden on licensees who fail to renew their license on time or within the grace period. As existing, the license is voided and requires a completely new application. With the proposed modifications, the license is still voided to prevent a delinquent license from being used, but the board may reinstate the license without a completely new application.

  • Reduce the time to waive FE exam and PE exam:
    • Applies to a few individuals seeking reciprocity from other states who have not taken the exams required in Florida but who have significant practice experience as PE’s in their home state demonstrating competence in engineering.

  • Adding a section for the successor engineer requirements:
    • Sets the requirements into law for when one PE adopts the work of a former engineer and clarifies that the new engineer becomes fully responsible for the work.

    As of this writing, the bills have been filed and are working their way through their assigned committees and are moving through the approval process to make it to the floor for a vote.

    FES/ACEC-FL has initiated these changes to keep our laws current and ease the regulatory burden on our members while maintaining protection for licensure and the protection of public health and safety.