public policy advocacy for the professional engineer                                                        January 29, 2013

The Importance of Advocacy

Four Years ago PENC successfully lobbied to have a Professional Engineer named to the Joining Our Businesses and Schools Commission – a legislative initiative chaired by then Lt. Governor Walter Dalton to promote STEM education in our schools in an effort to better prepare our students to take on the jobs of the future.  Since that time, the PE named to that Commission, Pam Townsend of AECOM has gone on to chair many other notable education initiatives that promote the “E” in Engineering and a new curriculum is currently being developed that will use engineering  concepts as the  foundation for our K-12 education.  This remarkable change will ensure more students have the aptitude and desire to pursue technical fields such as STEM making our state and our nation more economically competitive. 

This is but one of the many successful advocacy efforts enabled by your support. Since that time, PENC has been successful with a number of other legislative initiatives either alone or as part of a larger stakeholders group.  A few of these efforts have included:

  • Significant funding to replace, maintain or renovate deteriorating bridges throughout the state.  This additional funding came at a crucial time as the economy was suffering and allowed many engineering firms to keep their doors open.
  • Defeated proposed legislation that would have allowed several communities around the state to ignore the recommendations of Professional Engineers to install medians in heavily congested highways corridors that were unsafe thus compromising the safety of the traveling public and creating a liability for the State.
  • Inserted language in various bills that would require that only licensed Professional Engineers could do engineering work i.e., design of terminal groins.
  • Carved out an exemption for Engineers and Architects in a new mechanics lien law that would have imposed an undue burden on designers to file a written notice before beginning work on a construction project – even before a permit was issued. 
  • Protected the electronic seal of a PE with legislation that treats the seal of a licensed design professional as “confidential information,” protecting the seal from being copied and/or disclosed to the public. 
  • Ensured that an Engineer serves on the newly created NC Mining and Energy Commission that will develop rules and regulations governing shale gas extraction in NC.
  • Avoided a cap on the gas tax that would have significantly reduced funding for transportation.  (a cap was enacted at a lower threshold that NCDOT can successfully manage).

In addition, we monitored numerous other bills and legislative initiatives – some that never saw the light of day because of our opposition- and others on which we offered support or remained neutral. 

Without the advocacy efforts of PENC, funded by our member’s dues, there would be no organization at the legislature that would be protecting and promoting the Profession of Engineering.  Can you and your business afford NOT to have this protection?   

Tomorrow, the 2013 Legislative Session begins anew.  There will be many new faces (three of these will be Professional Engineers!) that will need to be educated about the Profession of Engineering.  As a member, your technical advice and expertise will be needed as we work through legislation that could affect the Profession of Engineering. 

This year, PENC’s legislative goals thus far include:

  1. Representing the engineering industry on any tax reform proposals that impose a tax on professional services;
  2. Seeking more streamlined environmental permitting processes and less oversight and regulation on the engineering industry;
  3. Introducing legislation to create a “PE” License Plate;
  4. Restoring funds for water/wastewater infrastructure projects and providing more funding for ALL state infrastructure;
  5. Ensuring the design professional’s lien rights are protected.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions about legislative issues.  If you would like to become more involved with PENC’s advocacy efforts, please contact me at or our Legislative Chair, Don Safrit, PE at

If there are questions or you need additional information, please feel free to contact me at or phone 919-834-1144, ext. 1.


Betsy Bailey
Professional Engineers of North Carolina

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