The House Professional Licensure committee held a public hearing on House Bill 997, which would create a professional license for soil scientists under the State Registration Board for Professional Engineers. The Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers submitted written testimony opposing the legislation. Not only would the bill add yet another licensed group under the engineers’ board (already covers land surveyors and geologists), but it would also infringe on the practice of geotechnical engineering.

The essence of the testimony spoke to the fact that soil science is one of the physical sciences and that when science is applied for the purpose of design that impacts the public’s health safety or welfare, it is by definition “engineering.” It also poses the question of how many of the sciences will Pennsylvania end up licensing. Additionally, a similar bill has been introduced to license foresters under the engineers’ board. No immediate action is expected on House Bill 997 or the foresters bill.