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Proposed Comity Rule Raises Hackles in Washington State

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There’s controversy brewing in Washington state over a rule, proposed by the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, that would grant comity to Canadian and U.S. engineers on the basis of licensure rather than written examinations. The proposed Chapter 196-13 WAC needs support from four of seven board members to pass. The opposition claims such a rule would diminish public safety, increase construction costs and harm engineers licensed in Washington, who must pass exams. “There is a fundamental life-safety issue,” says Douglas N. Campbell, an engineer in Bellingham, Wash., who opposes the rule. More than 700 petitions against the proposal, signed by state-licensed engineers, have been filed with the board, he says. In response to the criticism, George A. Twiss, the board’s executive director, says that a rigorous review of an applicant’s “experience, knowledge and abilities” is “a far more complex approach” to determining licensure than written exams. If the board passes the proposal at its meeting on Sept. 24, Campbell and others plan to appeal.


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