State Lines


Appeals court rules Stephen M. Miller can hold himself out as a CPA

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently handed down an important ruling in one of the pending "American Express cases." The ruling in effect protects Stephen M. Miller's right to hold himself out to the public as a CPA (e.g., placing his CPA designation on business cards and letterhead) even though his employer, American Express Tax and Business Services, Inc. (TBS) is not a licensed CPA firm. Further, the ruling implies TBS now may advertise it employs CPAs.

Florida's current regulatory statute prohibited Miller from holding himself out because TBS is not owned by CPAs and thus cannot obtain a license to engage in the practice of public accountancy. By holding himself out, Miller would have placed his license in jeopardy, even though he performed only non-attest business services while at TBS, in accordance with state law. Miller contended the statute violated his First Amendment right to free speech as well as an Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Appeals court sided with Miller, reasoning that his holding out conveys significant information about his qualifications, educates the marketplace and stimulates demand for his services. As such, holding out constitutes commercial speech, which warrants constitutional protection.

As a result of the case, the Board has been permanently enjoined from enforcing its statute in cases similar to Miller's. (source: National Public Accountant, vol. 42, no. 6, August 1997, pp. 6-7.)


Indiana therapists gain licensure in less than a year

Beginning July 1, 1998, licensed social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors will be licensed in the state of Indiana. The law comes as a result of a new level of cooperation among the three professions and, ironically, criticism from opponents of therapies endorsing recovered memories, according to Kelly Bauder, Membership Services Coordinator of the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Bauder says the counseling professions were able to use the recent testimony of critics to the Indiana legislature to their advantage. States Bauder, "There was all this discussion about horrible counselor people who were implanting false memories in people, and doing all these awful things, and we kept saying 'If you would have licensure, there would be recourse to these problems.'"

Previously, practitioners in these professions were required to obtain certification, which Bauder says took fifteen years to achieve. Besides licensure, the new law will offer a Licensed Social Worker designation to social workers with BSWs and two years of supervised experience, or MSWs with no post-graduate experience. The law will also add a requirement for LCSWs to take 24 semester hours of "clinically oriented" classes. Candidates for both designations must also pass national or clinical examinations.

All social workers currently certified as a Social Worker or Clinical Social Worker will be grandparented into the new system. The grandparenting window will close June 30, 1999. (source: the American Association of State Social Work Boards' Association News, August 1997, p. 5.)


Marriage and family therapists gain licensure; new Board to license social workers, marriage and family therapists

In April, the state legislature passed a measure granting licensure to marriage and family therapists, transferring licensure of social workers from the Department of Health, and creating a new state agency-the Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.

Although the Board opened its doors July 1, lack of funds and personnel have slowed Board operations. Although the Health Department was ordered to transfer funds from its social worker licensure program to the new Board by June 30, the Health Department refused to do anything until August 1. In the interim, small gifts from professional associations enabled the Board to cover its most urgent administrative tasks.

The Board was appointed on June 30 and consists of 10 members (six social workers and four marriage and family therapists). In spite of setbacks, they remain optimistic about the work that has been accomplished so far. In July all licensed social workers received cards with the new Board's address and phone number. Academic social work programs in the states have been mailed packets for graduates needing to apply for a professional license. Also, the Board contracted with Jane Emling, former director of the Division of Professional Licensure of the State Department of Health, to assist with the startup of the new office. Emling is expected to complete her work in six months.

During its first meeting in July, the Board chose Clayton "Rusty" Barnett as its Chair, Billie Jean Sewell as vice president for social work and K. Graham as vice president for marriage and family therapy.


Governor signs license suspension bill

Nebraska is the latest state to adopt legislation cracking down on parents who are delinquent in child support payments. In the final days of legislative debate, the Unicameral advanced a bill that provides for suspension of driver's, recreational, and professional licenses of parents who fall three months behind in child support.

The bill creates a sequence for revocation of licenses. Driver's licenses will be revoked first, but parents can keep a commercial driver's license and obtain a work permit. If the parent does not comply within 10 days, recreational licenses will be revoked. Continued non-payment after another 10 days will result in revocation of professional licenses.

Governor Nelson signed the bill on June 10, 1997. Officials estimate 25,000 Nebraskans will be notified by October 1 they could be subject to license suspension (source: The Nebraska Appraiser, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1997, p. 2.)