Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/26/1995 03:22 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 243 - LICENSING OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS Number 271 The last order of business was HB 243, "An Act relating to licensure of landscape architects." CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Mr. Dozier to come before the committee to explain the bill. Number 286 GEORGE DOZIER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Pete Kott, said currently, under state law architects, land surveyors and engineers are regulated by the State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors. That means that this board is in charge of admitting individuals to practice those professions. The board is responsible for setting standards for the safe practice of those professions. It disciplines individuals that violates regulations and those who are not safely practicing those professions, thereby, serves the public safety. MR. DOZIER said currently there is no board, including this board, that regulates landscape architects. He said it is the chairman's position that landscape architecture is a separate and distinct profession. It calls for specialized knowledge in scientific, engineering, and biological principles. He referred to individuals that practice this profession and said if it isn't done in a safe manner it could harm public safety. HB 243 does just that. It brings, within the scope of coverage of the state board, the practice of landscape architecture. Mr. Dozier said the bill is a large bill containing concept which is that landscape architecture should be regulated by the state. The remainder of the bill, 99 percent of it, consists of conforming amendments to existing statutes. Number 316 CHAIRMAN KOTT informed the committee members that there is a proposed CS. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON moved that CSHB 243(L&C), 9-LS0858C, Lauterbach, dated 4-12-95. Hearing no objection, CSHB 243(L&C) was adopted. CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Mr. Dozier to explain the CS. MR. DOZIER said the principle change is in Section 29 which adds subsections 10 and 11, which are not included in the original bill. He said Section 11 was added for the purpose of making it clear that individuals who have small business, and quite often teenagers that do lawn and yard work, aren't included in the coverage of the bill. He referred to Section 10 and said people from the profession are available to testify and he would defer it to them. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said he just got "beat up" by a person from the Alliance for all the unnecessary regulations that get into the way of Alaska businesses. He said he wanted the record to reflect that here are Alaska businesses coming to the legislature asking for regulation, and he is going to throw it back into their face the next time the Alliance comes down here because every piece of legislation is not being generated by a bunch of legislators saying, "O.K., how can we over regulate." He said every statute that leads to regulation that he has seen is (indisc.) business. He said he wanted the record to reflect very very clearly that he is going to be business friendly by passing this business request out of committee, but he going to throw it back at them the next time they come down here and tell him that he is over regulating them. Number 465 CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, said the department doesn't support the legislation because of the danger to public health and safety posed by poor quality landscape architecture seems low to the department. She said it is possible that more testimony on the bill will clarify and convince the department that there is danger. At this point, the department doesn't see danger that merits limitation of Alaskan's opportunity to perform the work of their choice. Ms. Reardon explained construction contractors who do the actual moving of earth and plant material are currently licensed by the division. It is a specialty contractor license that would not involve the design of landscaping which the bill deals with. All the landscape architects and architecture firms must currently have business licenses. She said that is how they regulate, only with business licenses or through construction contractor licenses for the actual landscape work. Ms. Reardon said she agrees with Mr. Dozier that landscape architecture is a separate and distinct profession from architecture and engineering which the department currently licenses. The question is a policy question as to whether the regulation is necessary to protect the public. She said the bill would certify people has having certain qualifications in landscape architecture so that it may benefit consumers that the person they hire has some training in that area. However, the restriction of the practice of landscape architecture for folks that don't have a license seems unnecessary or excessive at this time. If supporters of the bill do demonstrate that public health and safety concerns are involved, she would suggest that the licensing program be modified and made a bit more modest so that anyone who has passed the national landscape architecture course could submit proof of that and the division would license them. Ms. Reardon said perhaps the use of the term "landscape architect" would be limited to those folks, but perhaps people who did not call themselves licensed landscape architects could do the same work without going through the licensing. MS. REARDON said the bill adds a nonvoting landscape architect to the board. She said she believes this was an effort to hold down costs as the sponsors may have felt that having the member be nonvoting would somehow make the costs less. She said she doesn't really think that will turn out to be the case because the nonvoting member will still need to travel or participate in meetings, although she supposes the nonvoting member could choose to only participate by teleconference. She said her suggestion is to go a head and give that landscape architect the power to vote as it would be a smoother way of operating the board since everyone else who participates in meetings would be voting. MS. REARDON said if the committee does decide that there is public interest in restricting this profession to people with certain qualifications, she would suggest that Section 25 and 32 be clarified so that the definition of the practice of landscape architecture does not overlap with engineering. Those two sections point out that the definition of landscape architecture does include some things which engineers do which landscape architects shouldn't be permitted to do. Section 25 says, "This chapter does not prohibit the practice of landscape architecture by an engineer." It also says that even if you are a landscape and the definition of landscape architecture covers a certain procedure, if that procedure is really an engineering activity you can't do it. She said it seems that there needs to be more thought put into exactly where the boarder is between engineering and landscape architecture to eliminate some of the overlapping. She stated Section 25 needs clarification and work on the definitions. MS. REARDON said there needs to be a technical amendment needed in Section 24. It appears a subsection "A" needs to be added at the beginning of Section 24 because Section 25 says, "Notwithstanding A of this section." REPRESENTATIVE ELTON referred to making the nonvoting member a voting member and said we would then end up with a board that has ten members. He said most boards have odd numbers. He asked Ms. Reardon if she recommends that two be added or replace one of the others. MS. REARDON said she would not recommend removing one of the engineers or architects without having discussed that with those boards. She said adding another public member would increase the overall number of people and would increase the cost of the board. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said Section 5 seems to say that the nonvoting member wouldn't be entitled to per diem and travel expenses. MS. REARDON said that is true, but it seems that for the person to participate on the board, they would need to participate in the meetings. Therefore, she assumes there would be teleconference costs. She noted the meetings seem to be two day meetings. It will not necessarily be a savings over just flying to Anchorage or Juneau and participating. CHAIRMAN KOTT said he would take testimony from Anchorage. Number 492 DWAYNE ADAMS testified from Anchorage. He said he is (indisc.) in a landscape architecture firm of many people. Mr. Adams referred to the items Ms. Reardon brought up and said most of them were worked out with the Occupational Licensing Division about a year ago. It came to his attention about three weeks ago that were some concerns in the department. Mr. Adams referred to the public health and safety issues and said, for example, there is nobody licensed for the design of playground equipment. He said there are liability and safety issues involving the design of playground equipment. He pointed out playground equipment structures, the height a child could fall, the type of equipment, etc., are unlicensed in the state of Alaska, but are licensed in 45 other states. MR. ADAMS said the universal design standards for accessibility is one of the things that landscape architects deal with on a daily basis. It is in the public heath and the safety concerns that landscape architects be licensed and the people designing walkways and the facilities should be knowledgeable of these. It is important that landscape architects be licensed for the design of (indisc.) structures, simple walls and foundations that go into landscape architectural designs. He said the relationship of civil engineers is (indisc.) of architects and structural engineers. MR. ADAMS said landscape architects need to be licensed. As the owner of an eight person firm, he finds that he loses a significant amounts of (indisc.) to landscape architects. Approximately 50 percent of the work in the state in the realm of landscape architect is done by out of state landscape architects. The Alaska Native Hospital their (indisc.) designs all by out of state landscape architects. He continued to give more examples of organizations using out of state landscape architectures. MR. ADAMS explained that people who do this work should understand the Arctic conditions, the fundamentals of snow removal, salt, sand, plant materials, walking surfaces. Those are the fundamentals that landscape architects need to know. A component of the licensing requirement still should require that arctic engineering be a fundamental part of the training of landscape architects licensed in this state. He thanked the committee for listening to him. Number 524 LINDA CYRA-KORSGGARD, Landscape Architect, testified from Anchorage. She said she is licensed as a landscape architect both in Washington and Maine. The contribution of this profession to the health, safety and welfare of Alaskans warrants registration of the practice. The SOA(?) members are currently employed in Alaska's private landscape architectural offices and are publicly employed by federal offices of the Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. In addition, they are employed in state offices of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Municipalities employ landscape architects in park and recreation departments. Professional qualifications for landscape architects include a professional four or five year degree from one of over 40 accredited colleges or university programs. Landscape architecture is a profession licensed in 45 out of 50 states. Ms. Cyra-Korsggard explained the Alaska Professional Design Council, which is made up of (indisc.) land surveyors has taken a vote and has agreed to support them in their efforts to become a licensed profession. The AELS has also made that same determination. MS. CYRA-KORSGGARD said some the areas of expertise that (indisc.) are laws and regulations protecting the environment are signage and scenic road and trail pull out designs, official analysis of impacts of roadway and utility corridors, trail alignment, geometry and user conflicts, erosion control principals, relationship of recreational activities, fertilizers, insecticides, etc. Ms. Cyra-Korsggard continued to inform the committee of laws and regulations protecting the environment. She thanked the committee for listening to her. Number 559 LEE WYATT testified from the Mat-Su teleconference site. He said he is a 21 year resident of Alaska. When he first came to Alaska, it was to work on the pipeline and he came as a landscape architect. He said Aleyska called him a visual impact engineer. MR. WYATT explained he earned a five year professional degree in landscape architecture from the University of Washington in 1968. In 1972, he took a four day 36 hour exam to receive a national (indisc.) which allowed him to become a registered certified landscape architect in the state of Washington. He has been registered and has practiced in the states of Oregon, Montana, Colorado and Nebraska. He is currently licensed in the state of Idaho. MR. WYATT said he personally believes that in one form or another, the basic principles and (indisc.) of the practice of Alaska architecture, on a daily basis, are utilized in his position as the City Administrator/Public Works Director for the City of Wasilla. Landscape architects are normally trained and educated to be knowledgeable in almost all the professional design disciplines, as we know them, that are addressed in the other portions of this particular statute. Licensing would test knowledge and capability and would ensure competence in the market place. It would also allow people who are in the current practice to compete against those people who come from out of state to practice in this state, not knowing about the special considerations of Alaska. Some of the considerations relate to arctic engineering, climate, plant materials, frost, etc. Landscape architecture is an honorable profession. HB 243 is not over regulation. It would protect the citizens rights and all those who visit. He urged passage of HB 243. Number 584 BURDETT LENT, Landscape Architect, was next to testify from the Mat-Su teleconference site. He said he has been a landscape architect for about 34 years. He informed the committee that the types of projects he has been involved in since he has been in Alaska include residential planed unit development, site planning, planning and zoning, commercial and office building landscaping, highway landscaping, health care facilities, local parks, etc. He said these were done for a variety of clients from small residents up to projects involving land use. MR. LENT said to hire people from out of state to do some of the projects is not in the state's best interest. He said he has worked on projects where there are large amounts of funds being invested in infrastructure for health care facilities. He said a lot has already been mentioned about health, safety and welfare issues. He noted a landscape sprinkler system that is not properly designed can poison a domestic water system. Mr. Lent said 45 of 50 states have registered landscape architects, and therefore, provides a source of income for those landscape architects. In Alaska, we have an unequal footing with other professions where they are asked to do work of equal statute, but they are not protected from people coming in from out of state to do that same type of work. It is inconsistent. Another inconsistency in state law is the fact that landscape contractors are licensed and are controlled with insurance requirements. They carry far less responsibility than landscape architects do. MR. LENT said by licensing landscape architects, it will help familiarize the profession to other Alaskans who do not understand the profession. Local communities will adopt landscape standards as the large cities in Alaska have done. Mr. Lent said the benefits will accrue to all residents of Alaska in the proper planning of the development of our natural resources. Number 635 CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the committee would recess until further notice as the committee members have been summoned to the House Chambers.