Protect the CPA
As Montana's largest association for CPAs, we are laser focused on promoting and protecting the CPA license. There has been a national trend to attempt deregulation of state licensure laws. These efforts talk about reducing barriers to getting people back to work and reducing the size of government. While we feel these are both legitimate concerns, we do not believe deregulation is the answer.
We strongly support the work of the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL) and will continue to fight any proposal that could negatively impact CPA licensure in Montana.
It may seem self evident that not just anybody should be able to sign an audit. Attestation is not a simple task and the danger of getting it wrong could wreck our financial systems. Likewise, CPAs shouldn't be signing off on engineering drawings. Professional licensure is the way to protect the public from under skilled individuals performing technical or potentially dangerous activities.
You may also think who would attack licensure in Montana? Below are a couple examples.
2019 SB 347
Revise occupational licensing laws for those with criminal convictions
This is an example of good intentions, providing opportunities for those with a criminal conviction. The bill even had wording related to offenses directly related to the occupation.
The issue was that the bill prohibited boards from refusing to license a person based solely on the basis of a conviction. The carve out for offenses directly related was not defined. At the end of the day state boards would need to create rules listing related crimes.
2017 SB 365
Generally revise laws regarding business and occupational licensing.
This bill would have removed a number of boards, including public accounting, from Montana law.
The thinking was that national organizations provided certification and licensure:
WHEREAS, other national and state organizations and associations can provide licensing or certification for professional engineers and surveyors, public accountants, landscape architects, and real estate brokers, sellers, property managers, and timeshare salespeople.