Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/26/1995 03:22 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects