The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) supports “Occupational Licensing Board Antitrust Damages Relief and Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 6515)” introduced by Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX) to help ensure that state regulatory boards, board members, and staff members of regulatory boards are not personally at risk for legal damages resulting from their public service.
“State regulatory boards fulfill an important mission of protecting the public,” said ASWB chief executive officer Mary Jo Monahan, MSW, LCSW. “This legislation is necessary to ensure that current and future board members and staff are not deterred from serving because they are concerned about their personal liability when performing public service. On behalf of our member regulatory boards, ASWB is a supporter of this bill and we commend Rep. Conaway for recognizing the need to protect those whose service protects the public from harm.”
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission that state licensing boards comprised of “active market participants” can be considered private organizations and thus are subject to antitrust liability if they are not actively supervised by the state. The ruling left state professional and occupational licensing boards, members, and staff vulnerable to antitrust litigation and potential legal damages.
H.R. 6515 addresses these vulnerabilities and calls for a study to review and provide recommendations about occupational licensing reform. H.R. 6515 was introduced on July 25, 2018, and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. ASWB is a participating organization in the Professional Licensing Coalition, the group that secured sponsorship for this legislation.