White Paper: In Defense of Licensure in Virginia

McIntire Botanical Garden
From the white paper’s cover. 2019 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Analysis and Planning. McIntire Botanical Garden: Masterplan for Resiliency and Healing. Mikyoung Kim Design. / image: Mikyoung Kim Design

Last month, in response to the Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation’s study of the regulatory status of landscape architects, the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA Virginia) released a white paper on the Justification of Continued Licensure of Landscape Architects in Virginia.

Advocacy is a critical component of ASLA Virginia. The chapter’s Government Affairs Committee is dedicated to monitoring issues related to the practice of landscape architecture in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the public and environment.

Virginia’s Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation (BPOR) is conducting a study to determine if landscape architects should continue to be licensed. The study will be completed in December 2020, after a call for public comments closed on September 30.

ASLA Virginia and ASLA Potomac mobilized Virginia and Potomac chapter members and all landscape architects in the region to submit comments and to contact their clients, allied professionals, and others who value the work of licensed landscape architects to encourage them to submit their comments and declare their support for continued licensure of landscape architects.

The white paper prepared by ASLA Virginia with support provided by the Potomac Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA Potomac), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), supported the ASLA Virginia’s overall advocacy efforts.

With more than 200 pages of meticulously gathered documentation, the white paper is a valuable resource for landscape architecture licensure defense in every state.

The document includes sections and appendices focused on:

  • Landscape architecture and the protection of the public’s health, safety, and welfare (HSW)
  • Landscape architects vs. landscape designers
  • The overlap of landscape architecture practice with architecture and engineering
  • Virginia Licensing Board complaints data
  • Determining the need for regulation
  • The scope of the profession
  • Landscape architecture degree requirements
  • The Landscape Architecture Registration Exam (LARE)
  • HSW project examples
  • Impacts of landscape architecture on HSW
  • Landscape Architecture Library of MasterSpec

Throughout the last several years, the number of occupational licensure threat and reform bills has escalated at a drastic rate: from just one major landscape architecture deregulation threat in 2016, to tracking hundreds of occupational licensing reform bills in nearly every state by 2019.

In 2020, ASLA’s State Government Affairs team is tracking close to 250 occupational licensing bills in 47 states.

Where ASLA’s State Government Affairs team is tracking occupational licensing bills this year.

Licensure bills fall into the primary categories of:

  • high level threats to licensure,
  • facilitating greater mobility, and
  • reducing barriers to licensure.

In Virginia, deregulation bills in 2017 and 2018 both failed. A 2018 Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report questioned the need for landscape architecture licensure and requested it be studied further by the Department of Professional Regulation (DPOR). Public hearings on this subject were canceled for summer 2020, with a 30-day public comment period instead. The white paper was created and submitted during this public comment period this September.

ASLA Virginia Government Affairs Committee member Robert McGinnis, PLA, FASLA, was the lead preparer of this white paper and was supported by members of the ASLA Virginia Government Affairs Committee, including Billy Almond, PLA, FASLA, Chair, and Kevin Bayes, Chapter Executive Director. National ASLA team members that contributed to the white paper include Elizabeth Hebron, Director, State Government Affairs, and Bradley Rawls, Manager, State Government Affairs. Zachary Druga, CLARB’s State Government Affairs and Advocacy manager, also contributed to this document.

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