FL Governor Vetoes Controversial Engineer Licensing Bill

Originally published by: Florida Board of Professional EngineersAugust 5, 2015

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HB 217 passed the Legislature, on April 24, 2015. However, Governor Scott ultimately vetoed the bill on June 11, 2015, citing reservations regarding the grandfathering clause and the need for all structural engineers to pass the SE exam.

As written, the bill would have modified the current law related to the licensing and regulation of engineers (Chapter 471, F.S., Engineering) to create “Structural Engineers” and “Structural Engineering.” A separate license would have been required for engineers whose practice included engineering service or creative work that included the structural analysis and design of structural components or systems for threshold buildings as defined in Chapter 553.71, F.S., Building Construction Standards.

Thus, the license would have only been required for the design of threshold buildings. The bill included a grandfathering period that would have run through the end of February 2017, which outlined the qualifications for those currently practicing structural engineering to be able to obtain a license. Those qualifications would have required applicants (current/active licensed PE’s in Florida), to complete a FBPE application, be able to show a minimum of four (4) years of experience in structural engineering (traditionally defined), and meet with a representative of the FBPE.

Following the grandfathering period, an applicant for the structural engineering license would have been required to meet the current qualifications to become a professional engineer, demonstrate four (4) years of structural engineering experience and successfully complete the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) 16-hour structural engineering examination. Then beginning on March 1, 2017, the bill would have prohibited anyone, other than a duly licensed structural engineer, from practicing structural engineering, and from using the name or title of licensed structural engineer or any other similar title.

The main point is that since the bill DID NOT PASS, there remains no licensure by discipline in the State of Florida. Any duly licensed professional engineer can still practice in an area for which he or she is competent. We do not know what the future holds for a possible separate license for structural engineers. As of this publication, some of the professional societies whose membership includes structural engineers are discussing reintroduction of a bill in the future.