Introduced by Senator Condos of Chittenden District
Subject: Professions and occupations; landscape architects; licensure
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to create a system for licensing landscape architects.
AN ACT RELATING TO THE LICENSURE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 26 V.S.A. chapter 46 is added to read:
Chapter 46. Landscape Architects
Subchapter 1. General Provisions
§ 2611. PURPOSE
In order to protect public health, safety, and welfare, the practice of landscape architecture in this state is declared to be subject to regulation in the public interest, in accordance with the terms of this chapter.
§ 2612. DEFINITIONS
As used in this chapter:
(1) “Board” means the board of landscape architects established under this chapter.
(2) “Business entity” means a firm, partnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation.
(3) “Certificate of authorization” means a certificate issued by the board to a business entity to offer or provide landscape architectural services.
(4) “Disciplinary action” means any action taken against a licensee for unprofessional conduct.
(5) “Landscape architect” means a person who complies with all provisions of this chapter and is licensed by the board to engage in the practice of landscape architecture.
(6) “License” means an authorization granted by the board to practice landscape architecture.
(7) “Practice of landscape architecture” means any service where landscape architectural education, training, experience and the application of mathematical, physical, and social science principles are applied in consultation, evaluation, planning, design, including the preparation and filing of drawings, plans, specifications and other contract documents and administration of contracts relative to projects principally directed at the functional and aesthetic use and preservation of land. These services include the implementation of master plans, land use plans, land development concepts and natural resource management plans through the design of land forms and grading, on-site storm water drainage, soil conservation and erosion control methods, site lighting, water features, irrigation systems, landscape plantings, pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems, and related construction
§ 2613. PROHIBITION AND ENFORCEMENT
(a) No person shall:
(1) Practice or attempt to practice landscape architecture or hold himself or herself as being able to do so in this state without first obtaining a valid license as required by this chapter.
(2) Use the title “landscape architect,” “landscape architecture,” or “landscape architectural” in connection with the person’s name without being duly licensed.
(3) Use any titles, words, letters, or abbreviations in connection with the person’s name that may reasonably be confused with landscape architect or landscape architecture without being duly licensed.
(4) Practice or attempt to practice landscape architecture during license revocation or suspension.
(5) Stamp or seal documents with his or her landscape architect seal if his or her license to practice landscape architecture has expired or is revoked or suspended.
(6) Violate any provisions of this chapter.
(b) Any person who willfully violates any provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $2,000.00.
(c) The attorney general may bring an action for injunctive relief to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
§ 2614. EXEMPTIONS
(a) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit:
(1) any architect, professional engineer, or land surveyor licensed in Vermont from providing services for which he or she is licensed;
(2) individuals from making plans, drawings, or specifications for any property owned by them and for their own personal use.
(b) This chapter shall not be construed to affect or prevent:
(1) the practice of other legally recognized professions by those licensed in this state to practice those professions, including architecture, professional engineering, and land surveying;
(2) employees under the instruction, control, or supervision of someone lawfully practicing landscape architecture under the provisions of this chapter;
(3) students of landscape architecture acting under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect;
(4) individuals making plans, drawings or specifications for any property owned by them and for their own personal use; or
(5) an officer or employee of the federal government working in connection with such employment.
(c) This section shall not be construed to permit any person not licensed as provided in this chapter to use the title landscape architect or any title, sign, card, or device to indicate that such person is a landscape architect.
(d) This chapter shall not be construed to limit or restrict in any manner the
right of a practitioner of another profession or occupation from carrying on
in the usual manner any of the functions incidental to that profession or
occupation, including landscape designers undertaking work that does not
require a permit, foresters preparing forest management plans, and
Subchapter 2. Administration
§ 2621. BOARD OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
(a) The board of landscape architects is created and shall consist of five members. The board shall be attached to the office of professional regulation.
(b) Board members shall be citizens of the United States and residents of Vermont. Four members shall be landscape architects and one member shall be a public member. A landscape architect member shall have been licensed as a landscape architect in any state for at least five years prior to his or her appointment. Public members shall be persons who are not by education or experience involved in the practice of landscape architecture, are not related in any way to a landscape architect, and do not have a financial interest in the practice of landscape architecture.
(c) Board members shall be citizens of the United States and residents of Vermont. Four members shall be landscape architects and one member shall be a public member. A landscape architect member shall hold a valid license in Vermont to practice landscape architecture and shall have been licensed as a landscape architect for at least five years prior to his or her appointment. Public members shall be persons who are not by education or experience involved in the practice of landscape architecture, are not related in any way to a landscape architect, and do not have a financial interest in the practice of landscape architecture.
(d) Board members shall be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate. The governor shall request nominations from the Vermont chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and may request nominations from other sources, but shall not be bound to select members from the persons nominated. Members shall hold office for staggered terms of three years, with terms expiring on July 1 of each year, or until a successor is appointed. A vacancy occurring other than by expiration of a term shall be filled by appointment in the same manner that initial appointments are made for the unexpired term. No member shall serve more than three successive full terms on the board. The governor may remove any member of the board as provided in section 2004 of Title 3.
§ 2622. MEETINGS OF THE BOARD
(a) Annually, the board shall meet to elect a chair and secretary.
(b) Meetings may be called by the chair and shall be called upon the request of any other two members.
(c) Meetings shall be warned and conducted in accordance with chapter 5 of Title 1.
(d) A majority of the members shall be a quorum for transacting business.
(e) All action shall be taken upon a majority vote of the members present and voting, unless otherwise provided by chapter 5 of Title 1.
(f) The provisions of chapter 25 of Title 3 shall apply to contested cases under this chapter.
(g) Fees for the service of process and attendance before the board shall be the same as the fees paid sheriffs and witnesses in superior court.
§ 2623. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE BOARD
(a) The board shall adopt rules which are necessary for the performance of its duties, including:
(1) qualifications required for obtaining licensure to practice landscape architecture;
(2) procedures for disciplinary and reinstatement cases; and
(b) The board shall:
(1) If applications for licensure by examination are pending, offer examinations at least once per year and pass upon the qualifications of applicants for licensing.
(2) Use the administrative and legal services provided by the office of professional regulation under chapter 5 of Title 3.
(3) Provide general information to applicants for licensure as landscape architects.
(4) Explain appeal procedures to licensees and applicants and complaint procedures to the public.
(5) Adopt an official seal for the board.
(6) Investigate suspected unprofessional conduct by licensees and unauthorized practice by unlicensed individuals.
(7) Inform prospective applicants that they may notify the board if after reasonable effort they have been unable to obtain supervision by a licensee for activities prerequisite to licensure. When the board receives such a notice, it may interview the prospective applicant and thereafter shall take whatever action it deems appropriate.
(c) The board may:
(1) conduct hearings;
(2) administer oaths and subpoenas;
(3) issue orders relating to discovery in the same manner as a judge under the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, which may be enforced under section 1176 of this title; and
(4) request the attorney general to obtain injunctions to restrain unprofessional conduct.
(d) The board immediately shall refer all complaints and disciplinary matters to the attorney general, including suspected unauthorized practice of landscape architecture.
(e) The board shall appoint one or more members to assist the office of the attorney general in the investigation and prosecution of cases. A member serving in this capacity shall not participate in any way in the deliberations of the board with respect to such case and may not participate in ex parte communications with other board members on any such matters.
Subchapter 3. Licensure
§ 2626. APPLICATIONS
Applications for licensure shall be on forms provided by the board. Each application shall contain a statement under oath showing the applicant’s education, experience, and other pertinent information and shall be accompanied by the required fee.
§ 2627. QUALIFICATIONS
(a) A person shall be eligible for licensure as a landscape architect if the person qualifies under one of the following provisions:
(1) Comity or endorsement. A person holding a license to engage in the practice of landscape architecture issued on the basis of an examination, satisfactory to the board, by the appropriate regulatory authority of a state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, or another country based on requirements and qualifications shown by the application to be equal to or greater than the requirements of this chapter may be examined on landscape architecture matters peculiar to Vermont and granted a license at the discretion of the board. The board shall accept evidence that an applicant holds a valid certificate from the council of landscape architectural registration boards as proof of qualification for licensure under this subdivision.
(2) Graduation and examination. An applicant who has graduated from a landscape architecture curriculum of four years or more approved by the board, followed by at least three years of diversified experience in landscape architecture under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, and who has passed an examination satisfactory to the board may be granted a license. The board may accept experience received under the supervision of a licensed architect, professional engineer, or land surveyor for one year of the experience required under this subdivision. All applicants shall have at least two years of experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect.
(3) Experience and examination. An applicant who has completed nine or more years’ diversified experience in landscape architecture under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect and who has passed an examination that is satisfactory to the board may be granted a license. Experience received under the supervision of a licensed architect, professional engineer, or land surveyor may be substituted for no more than three years of this requirement. Credits from a landscape architecture program accredited by the landscape architectural accreditation board may be substituted for up to no more than three years of this requirement.
(4) Transitional provision. The board shall establish provisions so that any resident of Vermont who has been engaged in the practice of landscape architecture in Vermont and who is not licensed as a landscape architect in other states prior to the effective date of this act may provide evidence to the board regarding his or her qualifications for licensure without examination. Only those applicants who can establish a record of diverse landscape architectural practice for nine or more years are eligible for licensure under this subdivision. A degree from an accredited landscape architecture program may be substituted for two years of the experience requirement under this subdivision.
(b) Upon application for licensure, the applicant shall file a report to the board certifying the practical experience requirements completed. The supervisor shall certify that to the best of the supervisor’s knowledge, the report is correct.
(c) An applicant may submit experience accrued under the supervision of a Vermont landscape architect regardless of licensure status, if such experience was obtained on or before December 31, 2006. Such experience must be reviewed and approved by the board.
(d) An applicant shall pass a written examination selected by the board in such technical and professional subjects as may be prescribed by the board. Applicants may apply for examination before completing the experience requirement as long as the experience requirements will be fulfilled within two months of the examination date. Notification of the results of such examinations shall be mailed to each candidate within 30 days of the date the results are received by the board. A candidate failing to pass the examination may apply for reexamination and may sit for any regularly scheduled examination as many times as the candidate chooses to do so. If an applicant does not pass the entire examination, the applicant shall not be required to retake any section of an examination that the applicant has previously passed.
(e) The board may conduct a personal interview of an applicant. A personal interview shall be for the limited purposes of assisting the applicant to obtain licensure and for verifying the applicant’s educational qualifications and fulfillment of practical experience requirements for licensure. A personal interview shall not serve directly or indirectly as an oral examination of the applicant’s substantive knowledge of landscape architecture. An interview conducted under this section shall be taped and, at the request of the applicant, shall be transcribed. An applicant who is denied licensure shall be informed in writing of his or her right to have the interview transcribed free of charge. At least one of the public members of the board shall be present at any personal interview.
(f) When the board intends to deny an application for licensure, the director of the office of professional regulation shall send the applicant written notice of a preliminary decision by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall include a specific statement of the reasons for the action. Within 30 days of the date that an applicant receives such notice, the applicant may file a petition with the board for review of its preliminary decision. In cases where denial is based upon failure to pass the examination, the applicant may request and shall receive, within 30 days from the date of receipt of the request, further and more specific information on the content of questions which were answered incorrectly and what the correct answers were. Such information shall be provided in the manner prescribed by the testing service, and any fee charged by the testing service for this service shall be paid by the applicant. At the hearing to review the preliminary decision, which, if the applicant chooses, may not take place until the board has responded to inquiries about the questions and answers, the burden shall be on the applicant to show that licensure should be granted. After the hearing, the board shall affirm or reverse the preliminary decision. The applicant may appeal a final denial by the board to the appeals panel.
(g) Licensing standards and procedures adopted by the board by rule shall be fair and reasonable. Those standards and procedures shall be designed and implemented to ensure that all applicants are admitted to practice unless there is a good reason to believe that practice by a particular applicant would be inconsistent with the public health, safety, or welfare. Licensing standards shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of licensees.
§ 2628. CORPORATIONS; LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES;
PARTNERSHIPS; ASSOCIATIONS; INDIVIDUAL
(a) The right to practice landscape architecture is a personal right based on the qualities of the individual and evidenced by a nontransferable license.
(b) A corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, or individual proprietorship may furnish landscape architectural services, provided a member or employee is a licensed landscape architect and is in responsible charge of such services, and provided all plans and specifications are signed and stamped with the personal seal of the licensed landscape architect in responsible charge.
(c) A corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, or individual proprietorship with which the landscape architect may practice shall be jointly and severally liable with the landscape architect for work performed.
§ 2629. LICENSES; GENERALLY
(a) The board shall issue a license, upon payment of the fees required in this chapter, to any applicant who has satisfactorily met all the requirements of this chapter. Licenses shall contain a serial number, the full name of the licensee, the signatures of the chair and secretary of the board, and the seal of the board.
(b) Issuance of a license shall be evidence that the licensee is entitled to all the rights and privileges of a licensed landscape architect as long as the license does not expire and is not revoked, suspended or limited by conditions established as a result of disciplinary action taken under the provisions of this chapter.
§ 2630. LICENSE RENEWAL
(a) Licenses shall be renewed every two years upon application and payment of the required fee. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall result in suspension of all privileges granted by the license, beginning on the expiration date of the license. A license which has lapsed shall be renewed upon payment of the biennial renewal fee and the late renewal penalty.
(b) The board may adopt rules necessary for the protection of the public to assure the board that an applicant whose license has lapsed for more than three years is professionally qualified. Conditions imposed under this subsection shall be in addition to the requirements of subsection (a) of this section.
(c) In addition to the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, an applicant for renewal shall have satisfactorily completed continuing education as required by the board. For the purposes of this subsection, the board may require by rule not more than 20 hours of approved continuing education as a condition of biennial license renewal.
§ 2631. FEES
Applicants and persons regulated under this chapter shall pay the following fees:
(1) Application for licensure: $100.00
(2) Initial license issuance: $20.00
(3) Biennial license renewal: $240.00
§ 2632. SEAL
Each licensee shall obtain a seal of such design as the board shall authorize and direct. Plans and specifications prepared by or under the direct supervision of a licensed landscape architect shall be stamped with the licensee’s seal.
§ 2633. UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
Unprofessional conduct means the following conduct and the conduct set forth in section 129a of Title 3:
(1) assisting the application for licensure of a person known by the licensee to be unqualified in respect to education, training, or experience;
(2) accepting compensation for services from more than one party on a project unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to by all interested parties;
(3) failing to disclose fully in writing to a client or employer the nature of any business association or direct or indirect financial interest substantial enough to influence the licensee’s judgment in the performance of professional services;
(4) soliciting or accepting compensation from material or equipment suppliers in return for specifying or endorsing their products;
(5) failing to disclose compensation for making public statements on landscape architectural questions;
(6) offering or making any payment or gift to an elected or appointed government official with the intent to influence the official’s judgment in connection with a prospective or existing project in which the licensee is interested;
(7) offering or making any gifts of other than nominal value, including reasonable entertainment and hospitality, with the intent to influence the judgment of an existing or prospective client in connection with a project in which the licensee is interested;
(8) practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law;
(9) knowingly designing a project in violation of applicable state and local laws and regulations;
(10) accepting and performing responsibilities which the licensee knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform, or undertaking to perform professional services in specific technical areas in which the licensee is not qualified by education, training, and experience;
(11) failing to practice with reasonable care and competence and to apply the technical knowledge and skill ordinarily applied by licensees practicing in the same locality;
(12) making any willful material misrepresentation with respect to the qualifications or experience of an applicant or otherwise in the practice of the profession, whether by commission or omission;
(13) agreeing with any other person, as defined in section 128 of Title 1, or subscribing to any code of ethics or organizational bylaws, when the intent or primary effect of that agreement, code, or bylaw is to restrict or limit the flow of information concerning alleged or suspected unprofessional conduct to the board;
(14) failing to report to the board knowledge of a violation of these rules by another licensee;
(15) acting, while serving as a board member, in any way to contravene willfully the provisions of this chapter and thereby artificially restricting the entry of qualified persons into the profession;
(16) using the licensee’s seal on drawings prepared by others not in the licensee’s direct employ, or using the seal of another;
(17) inaccurately representing to a prospective or existing client or employer the licensee’s qualifications and scope of responsibility for work for which the licensee claims credit;
(18) signing or sealing technical submissions unless they were prepared by or under the responsible control of the licensee, except that:
(A) the licensee may sign or seal those portions of the technical submissions that were prepared by or under the responsible control of persons who are licensed under this chapter if the licensee has reviewed and adopted in whole or in part such portions and has either coordinated their preparation or integrated them into his or her work; and
(B) the licensee may sign or seal those portions of the technical submissions that are not required by this section to be prepared by or under the responsible control of a licensee if the licensee has reviewed and adopted in whole or in part such submissions and integrated them into his or her work. Reviewing or reviewing and correcting technical submissions after they have been prepared by others does not constitute the exercise of responsible control because the reviewer has neither control over nor detailed knowledge of the content of such submissions throughout their preparation. Any licensee signing and sealing technical submissions not prepared by that licensee but prepared under the licensee’s responsible control by persons not regularly employed in the office where the licensee is resident shall maintain and make available to the board upon request, for at least five years following such signing and sealing, adequate and complete records demonstrating the nature and extent of the licensee’s control over and detailed knowledge of such technical submissions throughout their preparation;
(19) in each office maintained for preparation of drawings, specifications, reports, or other professional work, failing to have a licensee with direct knowledge and supervisory control of such work resident and regularly employed in that office.
§ 2634. DISCIPLINE
(a) The director of the office of professional regulation and the board shall accept signed, written complaints from any person or any state or federal agency and shall refer them to the attorney general, who shall decide whether to commence disciplinary action. The attorney general may initiate disciplinary action in any complaint against a licensee or may act without having received a complaint. In any action commenced under this chapter, the respondent and the attorney general shall be parties.
(b) The burden of proof shall be on the state to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct.
(c) In connection with a disciplinary action, the board may refuse to accept the return of a license tendered to the subject of a disciplinary investigation. The board may notify relevant state, federal, and local agencies and appropriate bodies in other states of the status of any pending or completed disciplinary case against a licensee, provided that the board has served notice of charges against a licensee or has taken disciplinary action against that person.
(d) After hearing and upon a finding of unprofessional conduct, the board may:
(1) revoke licensure;
(2) suspend licensure;
(3) issue a warning to a licensee; or
(4) limit or condition licensure.
(e) Before, during, or after a hearing, the board may approve a negotiated agreement between the parties when it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, or welfare to do so. Such an agreement may be modified by the parties after obtaining the approval of the board and may include, without limitation, any of the following conditions or restrictions which may be in addition to or in lieu of suspension:
(1) a requirement that the licensee submit to care or counseling;
(2) a restriction that the licensee practice only under supervision of a named person or a licensee with specified credentials;
(3) a requirement that a licensee participate in continuing education in order to overcome specified deficiencies;
(4) a requirement that the licensee’s scope of practice be restricted to a specified extent.
(f) An interested party may petition the board for modification of the terms of an order under this section.
(g) When licensure has been revoked, the board may reinstate the license on terms and conditions it deems proper.
Sec. 2. SUNSET
Subsection 2621(b) of Title 26 (board of landscape architects membership requirement) shall expire on July 1, 2009, and subdivision 2627(a)(4) of Title 26 (transitional provision for qualifications requirements) shall expire on July 1, 2006.
Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE
Subsection 2621(c) of Title 26 (board of landscape architects membership requirement) shall take effect on July 1, 2009.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street