HB 748, the “Occupational Licensing Review Act” was originally proposed with the intent of increasing employment opportunities in Louisiana by loosening licensing requirements for certain jobs. DEMA and other associations objected to wording in the initial text that would have restricted individuals holding a voluntary certification from using the term “certified” in their title.
For the diving community, if enacted as originally proposed, this bill would have prohibited certified instructors, divemasters/dive cons, rescuers, equipment repair professionals and others from acknowledging their professional credentials in offering their services to the public. Conversely, these professional statuses would have ceased – by law – being dive community standards that exist for the protection of the public, with the potential result that diving education and services could more easily be offered by untrained individuals.
DEMA urged the diving community in Louisiana to reach out to representatives there and oppose the bill, and, after receiving objections from DEMA and others, HB 748 was amended by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Julie Emerson (R). As a result, the measure was significantly amended before the LA Senate Commerce Committee considered it. The certification prohibition was removed in the amended version.
The bill now provides for the governor’s office to review 20 percent of the agencies engaged in regulatory and licensing activities within five years. The term “certification” has been removed from the bill entirely.
As of this writing the amended bill still must be passed by the full Louisiana Senate. It will then require a vote for concurrence on the House floor or be sent into conference. DEMA will continue to monitor changes to this bill and will remain on watch to prevent similar bills from being proposed or passed elsewhere.
Industry members who encounter legislation of any kind which is averse to the interests of the diving community are urged to contact DEMA for assistance.