STATE BOARD OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
[49 PA. CODE CH. 15 ]
Continuing Education and Elimination of Registration without Examination
[43 Pa.B. 1859]
[Saturday, April 6, 2013]
The State Board of Landscape Architects (Board) proposes to rescind § 15.56 (relating to registration without examination) and amend §§ 15.72 and 15.80 (relating to requirement for biennial renewal; and retention of records) to read as set forth in Annex A. The Board proposes to update its regulations regarding continuing education and elimination of registration without examination. This proposed rulemaking conforms the Board's regulations to the amendments made to the Landscape Architects' Registration Law (act) (63 P. S. §§ 901—913) by the act of July 17, 2009 (P. L. 94, No. 24) (Act 24) and makes other changes related to these amendments.
The proposed rulemaking will be effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
The proposed amendments to §§ 15.56 and 15.72 are mandated by the Act 24 amendments to sections 6(c) and 9.1(b) of the act (63 P. S. §§ 906(c) and 909.1(b)). Furthermore, section 4(9) of the act (63 P. S. § 904(9)) authorizes the Board to adopt, promulgate and enforce rules and regulations not inconsistent with the act as it deems necessary to carry into effect the powers conferred by the act. Finally, section 9.1(a) of the act requires the Board to adopt, promulgate and enforce regulations consistent with the provisions of the act establishing requirements for continuing education.
Background and Purpose
In 2009, the General Assembly amended the act to eliminate licensure through an outdated ''grandfathering'' provision, which previously authorized the Board to register applicants who had practiced landscape architecture for at least 10 or 15 years. In addition, the General Assembly amended the act to increase the number of hours of required continuing education from 10 to 24 beginning with the license period designated by the Board. After the enactment of Act 24, the Board sent two newsletters in 2010 to its licensees telling them of the increased continuing education requirement and also published a notice on its web site. Although the Board initially anticipated that the increased continuing education requirement would be implemented during the 2011-2013 biennium, to give sufficient notice to licensees at this time, the Board proposes to designate the 2013-2015 licensure period (from June 1, 2013, through May 31, 2015) as the licensure period in which licensees will first be required to complete the increased number of 24 hours in continuing education as a condition of renewal in 2015. The Board plans to continue informing its licensees of the increased continuing education requirement through future newsletter articles and a notice on the Board's web site. To that end, on November 21, 2012, the Board posted a notice on its web site of the increased continuing education requirement to take 14 additional credit hours of continuing education by May 31, 2015, to renew a license. In the notice, the Board informed licensees that this is what the Board is proposing by this proposed rulemaking and that the Board will keep its licensees apprised when this proposed rulemaking becomes effective.
Description of the Proposed Rulemaking
The Board proposes to rescind § 15.56 because Act 24 deleted the provisions in section 6(c)(ii) of the act that permitted a ''grandfathering'' provision for two types of applicants. First, an applicant with 10 years of active experience as a landscape architect who also was a graduate of an approved institution could have become licensed. Second, an applicant with 15 years of active experience who was not a graduate of an approved institution could have become licensed. The Board implemented these provisions in § 15.56(a)(1) and (2). They are no longer needed due to Act 24. Also included in § 15.56(a)(3) is a provision which provides for individuals who have passed the examination in another state. Although not affected by Act 24, the Board is also proposing to delete this provision because it is already covered in § 15.57(a) (relating to registration by endorsement). Subsection (b) is also no longer necessary because it deals with the procedure to implement the requirements in subsection (a)(1) and (2). Therefore, it is appropriate to rescind this section.
Act 24 also made two changes in section 9.1(b) of the act that are incorporated in the proposed amendments to § 15.72(a). The first change is that Act 24 increased the continuing education hours for landscape architects from 10 to 24 during each biennial renewal period. The Board proposes to amend § 15.72(a) to incorporate this change and clarify the continuing education requirement for the current 2011-2013 biennium. The second change is that Act 24 gave the Board the authority to designate when the increased continuing education requirements will be implemented. Although the Board initially anticipated that the increased continuing education requirement would be implemented for the 2011-2013 biennium, these proposed amendments would now provide that the increased continuing education hours will be required to be completed for the first time during the 2013-2015 biennium (from June 1, 2013, through May 31, 2015) and will continue thereafter. The practical effect of this requirement is that a licensed landscape architect will have to take 14 additional credit hours of continuing education by May 31, 2015, to renew a license. As it has done since 2010, the Board will continue to inform its licensees of the increased continuing education requirements through the Board's newsletters and through a notice on the Board's web site.
The Board also proposes to amend § 15.72(c) to make it consistent with subsection (a) for licensees who reactivate a lapsed license. Finally, the Board proposes to add § 15.72(d) to allow a licensee to carry over a maximum of 12 continuing education credits (half of the newly required 24 credits) into the subsequent renewal period. A carry-forward provision would encourage licensees to maximize the continuing education they take and not be deterred from taking continuing education if they do not need it for credit during the current biennial cycle. In other words, if a licensee has already taken the required continuing education credits and then sees an excellent course to take in the final months of the continuing education renewal period, the licensee will receive future credit for taking this course. A positive consequence of the carry-forward provision is also that licensees who took additional continuing education courses during the 2011-2013 biennium in anticipation of the Board's implementation of Act 24 will now be able to carry forward up to 12 of those credits. For example, if a licensee obtained 22 continuing education credits during the 2011-13 biennial from June 1, 2011, through May 31, 2013, that licensee can carry over the extra 12 continuing education credits into the next renewal period of 2013-2015. In this example, that licensee would only need to obtain 12 additional continuing education credits from June 1, 2013, through May 31, 2015, to renew a license.
In § 15.80(a) and (c), the Board proposes to increase from 4 to 6 years the time licensees and course providers are required to retain continuing education documentation. Because the Board audits continuing education after the close of a biennial renewal period, providing this extra time assists the Board in conducting a thorough audit of courses taken in the past. Furthermore, with § 15.72(d) allowing a licensee to carry forward 12 continuing education credits into the subsequent renewal period, a licensee will be better able to document credits that are carried forward.
The proposed rulemaking should not have a major fiscal impact on the Commonwealth, the general public or political subdivisions. Due to the requirement in Act 24, the Board's 1,006 active licensees will have to pay for 14 additional continuing education hours of instruction. The Board estimates that the cost to a licensee for the additional continuing education hours is approximately $434 per biennium (or $217 per year).
The proposed rulemaking will require the Board to change the number of continuing education credits on biennial renewal forms. However, the proposed rulemaking does not increase paperwork for the general public. The Board's licensees shall maintain records of their additional continuing education credits. However, they are not required to complete additional reports.
The Board continuously monitors its regulations. Therefore, a sunset date has not been assigned.
Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on March 21, 2013, the Board submitted a copy of this proposed rulemaking and a copy of a Regulatory Analysis Form to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and the Chairpersons of the House Professional Licensure Committee and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.
Under section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC may convey comments, recommendations or objections to the proposed rulemaking within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. The comments, recommendations or objections must specify the regulatory review criteria which have not been met. The Regulatory Review Act specifies detailed procedures for review, prior to final publication of the rulemaking, by the Board, the General Assembly and the Governor of comments, recommendations or objections raised.
Interested persons should submit written comments, suggestions or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking to Louis Lawrence Boyle, Regulatory Unit Counsel, State Board of Landscape Architects, P. O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649 within 30 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. When submitting comments, reference No. 16A-6110 Landscape Architecture Continuing Education and Elimination of Registration without Examination.
DANIEL S. DIMUCCI, L.A.,
Fiscal Note: 16A-6110. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 49. PROFESSIONAL AND VOCATIONAL STANDARDS
PART I. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Subpart A. PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS
CHAPTER 15. STATE BOARD OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
§ 15.56. [Registration without examination] (Reserved).
[(a) Requirements. An applicant who meets one or more of the following requirements is eligible for registration without examination:
(1) An individual who possesses 10 years of practical experience in landscape architecture, of a grade and character satisfactory to the Board, and who has graduated from an approved institution.
(2) An individual who possesses 15 years of practical experience in landscape architecture of a grade and character satisfactory to the Board.
(3) An individual who has passed the examination in another state with a score required by the Board and who has met the education experience requirements of the act.
(1) Prior to issuing a license without examination, the Board will require the applicant to appear before representatives of the Board for an interview. The applicant will be required to submit the following work samples to the representatives during the interview:
(i) Site and development plans.
(ii) Specifications and drawings.
(iii) Grading and drainage plans.
(iv) Layout plans.
(v) Planting plans.
(vi) Stormwater management plans and calculations.
(vii) Site construction details and specifications.
(viii) Photographs of completed projects.
(ix) Evidence of cost estimating and supervision of construction.
(x) A variety of project types including experience with residential subdivision, commercial land developments, environmental projects and park and recreation projects.
(2) Submission of work samples.
(i) The applicant shall submit original work samples in support of an application for registration without examination, unless the Board agrees to accept photocopies for good cause shown by the applicant.
(ii) The work samples will be returned to the applicant at the conclusion of all proceedings related to the application.
(3) Prior to issuing a license without examination, the Board will review the applicant's qualifications, and by a majority vote approve or disapprove the application.
(4) If an application has been disapproved, the Board may vote to allow the applicant to take the written examination.]
§ 15.72. Requirement for biennial renewal.
(a) [As a condition of biennial renewal commencing with the 2003 biennium and continuing thereafter, licensees shall have completed during the preceding biennium 10 clock hours of continuing education in acceptable courses approved under this subchapter.] During each biennial period from the 2001-2003 biennium (from June 1, 2001, through May 31, 2003) and continuing through the 2011-2013 biennium (from June 1, 2011, through May 31, 2013), a licensee shall complete 10 clock hours of continuing education in accordance with this subchapter as a condition of biennial renewal. During each renewal period beginning with the 2013-2015 biennium (from June 1, 2013, through May 31, 2015) and continuing thereafter, a licensee shall complete 24 clock hours of continuing education in accordance with this subchapter as a condition of biennial renewal.
* * * * *
(c) A licensee who wishes to reactivate a lapsed license or who has been on inactive status shall have completed  the required number of clock hours of continuing education in subsection (a) in the 2-year period immediately prior to reactivation.
(d) If a licensee exceeds the required number of clock hours of continuing education in a renewal period, the licensee may carry forward a maximum of 12 continuing education clock hours into the subsequent renewal period.
§ 15.80. Retention of records.
(a) The licensee shall retain copies of licensure renewal forms and the certificates, transcripts or other acceptable documentation of completion of the prescribed number of clock hours for  6 years following completion of the course. Records and documentation shall be produced upon demand by the Board or its auditing agents. The Board will utilize a random audit of renewals to determine compliance with the continuing education requirement.
* * * * *
(c) A provider shall retain records for  6 years following the presentation of a course which shall document the successful completion of a course and the number of clock hours granted to every licensee. Copies of transcripts, certificates or other documentation shall be made available to a licensee upon request.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 13-614. Filed for public inspection April 5, 2013, 9:00 a.m.]
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