As we reported back in mid-May, the Missouri legislature passed – and Gov. Mike Parson will soon sign into law – legislation that contains an amendment recommended by the PCC that aims to protect the interests of the certification community and certified professionals.

HB 2046, a comprehensive professional licensing/registration bill, clarifies that Missouri law does not intend to remove certification requirements from professional practice acts that require licensed professionals to earn and maintain current certifications issued by private certification bodies, given that these bodies’ subject matter experts serve as the foundation for determining what requirements are necessary to protect the public.  We recommended the inclusion of a safe-harbor provision to address these concerns and that safe harbor was included in the bill. The presumptive enactment of this legislation will not only protect requirements to obtain and maintain certification for certain professions but will also hopefully serve as a model as other states considering similar legislation.

In the course of our Missouri advocacy efforts, we have also been seeking change to or an interpretation of a current Missouri law that, read plainly, could restrict the ability of an individual to hold themselves out as a “registered” professional in a profession that confers such title in conjunction with a privately issued credential.   That provision defines registration as a government recognition and prohibits those who haven’t “registered” from using the title.

Although HB 2046 did not include a correction of this issue, the PCC and our contract lobbyists in Jefferson City continued to work with the bill sponsors to persuade state regulators to interpret the law in a way that does not preclude professionals from utilizing the term “registered” to reflect any private credential they have earned.

We are pleased to report that, last week, a representative from the Missouri Division of Professional Registration confirmed to the staff of bill sponsor Sen. Andrew Koenig in writing that the Division agrees with the PCC’s interpretation and advises certificants that “if you’ve received a title by a private certification organization, you may continue to use that title.”

Although this does not constitute a formal ruling by the Division, we think it can give credentialing organizations and those professionals who maintain such credentials confidence that they will be allowed to hold themselves out as “registered” without fear of legal liability.  We will follow up by writing a letter to the Division asking for a formal statement of interpretation on which PCC members can rely upon going forward that is consistent with the informal guidance we have now received.

In sum, we are pleased that our advocacy efforts have led to success in Missouri, especially under the difficult circumstances of the pandemic.