Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations

Chapter 3. Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

§ 54.1-300. Definitions.

As used in this chapter unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation.

"Certification" means the process whereby the Department or any regulatory board issues a certificate on behalf of the Commonwealth to a person certifying that he possesses the character and minimum skills to engage properly in his profession or occupation.

"Department" means the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

"Director" means the Director of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

"Inspection" means a method of regulation whereby a state agency periodically examines the activities and premises of practitioners of an occupation or profession to ascertain if the practitioner is carrying out his profession or occupation in a manner consistent with the public health, safety and welfare.

"Licensure" means a method of regulation whereby the Commonwealth, through the issuance of a license, authorizes a person possessing the character and minimum skills to engage in the practice of a profession or occupation that is unlawful to practice without a license.

"Registration" means a method of regulation whereby any practitioner of a profession or occupation may be required to submit information concerning the location, nature and operation of his practice.

"Regulatory board" means the Auctioneers Board, Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects, Board for Barbers and Cosmetology, Board for Branch Pilots, Board for Contractors, Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians, Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists, Board for Waste Management Facility Operators, Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals, Cemetery Board, Real Estate Appraiser Board, Real Estate Board, Fair Housing Board, Virginia Board for Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors, and Common Interest Community Board.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.18; 1980, c. 757; 1981, c. 132; 1982, c. 538; 1983, cc. 115, 322; 1984, cc. 82, 203; 1985, c. 448; 1987, c. 686; 1988, cc. 354, 716, 765; 1990, cc. 459, 466; 1991, c. 551; 1993, c. 499; 1998, c. 27; 1999, c. 950; 2000, c. 726; 2001, cc. 723, 832; 2002, c. 784; 2003, c. 575; 2007, cc. 892, 924; 2009, cc. 358, 557; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-301. Department continued; appointment of Director.

The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation within the executive branch is hereby continued. The Department shall be headed by a Director who shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, to serve at the pleasure of the Governor for a term coincident with that of the Governor.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.30; 1984, c. 720; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 499.

§ 54.1-302. Supervision of Department.

The Director of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation shall be responsible for the supervision of the Department under the direction and control of the Governor and shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as the Governor requires.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.31; 1984, c. 720; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 499.

§ 54.1-303. General powers of Director.

The Director shall have the following general powers:

To employ personnel and assistance necessary for the operation of the Department and the purposes of this chapter.

To make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of the duties of the Department and the execution of its powers under this chapter, including, but not limited to, contracts with the United States, other states, and agencies and governmental subdivisions of the Commonwealth.

To accept grants from the United States government and agencies and instrumentalities thereof and any other source. To these ends, the Department shall have the power to comply with such conditions and execute such agreements as may be necessary, convenient or desirable.

To do all acts necessary or convenient to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.32; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-304. Powers and duties of the Director with respect to regulatory boards.

Each of the regulatory boards within the Department shall be a separate board. All of the administrative functions of the regulatory boards shall be under the direction and supervision of the Director.

In the performance and discharge of his duties with respect to the regulatory boards, the Director shall:

1. Be the secretary of each board;

2. Maintain all records for each board;

3. Collect and account for all fees prescribed to be paid into each board and account for and deposit the moneys so collected into a special fund from which the expenses of the Board, regulatory boards and Department shall be paid;

4. Enforce all statutes and regulations the Director is required to administer;

5. Exercise other powers necessary to function as the sole administrative officer of each of such boards; and

6. Perform any additional administrative functions prescribed by the Board.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.33; 1984, c. 734; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-305. Bond of Director.

Before entering upon the discharge of his duties, the Director shall give bond payable to the Commonwealth of Virginia conditioned upon the faithful discharge of his duties in a form approved by the Attorney General, in such penalty as shall be fixed by the Governor, with a surety or guaranty company authorized to do business in this Commonwealth. The premium required for the bond shall be paid out of the administrative fund appropriated to the Department, and the bond shall be filed with and preserved by the Comptroller.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.34; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-306. Enforcement of laws by Director or investigators; authority of investigators appointed by Director.

A. The Director or investigators appointed by him shall be sworn to enforce the statutes and regulations pertaining to the Department, the regulatory boards within Subtitle II (§ 54.1-200 et seq.) of this title, and any of the programs which may be in another title of this Code for which any regulatory board within Subtitle II has enforcement responsibility. The Director or investigators appointed by him shall have the authority to investigate violations of the statutes and regulations that the Director is required to enforce. The Director or investigators appointed by him shall also have the authority to issue summonses for violations of the statutes and regulations governing the unlicensed practice of professions regulated by the Department. In the event a person issued such a summons fails or refuses to discontinue the unlawful acts or refuses to give a written promise to appear at the time and place specified in the summons, the investigator may appear before a magistrate or other issuing authority having jurisdiction to obtain a criminal warrant pursuant to § 19.2-72. In addition, sworn criminal investigators of the Department's Criminal Investigations section shall be statewide conservators of the peace while engaged in the performance of their official duties.

B. All investigators appointed by the Director are vested with the authority to administer oaths or affirmations for the purpose of receiving complaints and conducting investigations of violations of this subtitle, or any regulation promulgated pursuant to authority given by this subtitle or in connection with any investigation conducted on behalf of any regulatory board within this subtitle or a program which may be located in another title in this Code. Such investigators are vested with the authority to obtain, serve and execute any warrant, paper or process issued by any court or magistrate or any regulatory board under the authority of the Director and request and receive criminal history information under the provisions of § 19.2-389.

C. Any regulatory board within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation may adopt a resolution delegating to the sworn investigators appointed by the Director pursuant to § 54.1-306, the authority to conduct inspections. After conducting an inspection pursuant to the delegation of inspection authority, an investigator may initiate an investigation based on any act, omission, or condition witnessed by the investigator and offer a consent agreement to the regulant to resolve any violation discovered during the inspection, subject to the provisions of subsection B of § 54.1-202. If a consent agreement is offered pursuant to the delegation of authority authorized by this subsection, it shall not become effective until approved by the Director.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.39; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 16; 1991, c. 130; 2002, c. 605; 2005, c. 383.

§ 54.1-307. Subpoenas.

In addition to the authority granted in § 2.2-4022 to issue subpoenas and the right to issue subpoenas granted the several regulatory boards within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, the Director or a designated subordinate shall have the right to make an ex parte application to the circuit court for the city or county wherein evidence sought is kept or wherein a licensee does business, for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum in furtherance of the investigation of a sworn complaint within the jurisdiction of the Department or a regulatory board to request production of any relevant records, documents and physical or other evidence of any person, partnership, association or corporation licensed or regulated by the Department. The court shall be authorized to issue and compel compliance with such a subpoena upon a showing of reasonable cause. Upon determining that reasonable cause exists to believe that evidence may be destroyed or altered, the court may issue a subpoena duces tecum requiring the immediate production of evidence.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.40; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 499.

§ 54.1-307.1. Time for filing complaints against regulants.

A. Except as otherwise provided in § 36-96.9 and subsections B and C of this section, any complaint against a regulant for any violation of statutes or regulations pertaining to the regulatory boards within Subtitle II (§ 54.1-200 et seq.) of this title or any of the programs which may be in another title of the Code for which any regulatory board within Subtitle II has enforcement responsibility, in order to be investigated by the Department, shall be made in writing, or otherwise made in accordance with Department procedures, and received by the Department within three years of the act, omission or occurrence giving rise to the violation. Public information obtained from any source by the Director or agency staff may serve as the basis for a written complaint against a regulant.

B. However, where a regulant has materially and willfully misrepresented, concealed or omitted any information and the information so misrepresented, concealed or omitted is material to the establishment of the violation, the complaint may be made at any time within two years after discovery of the misrepresentation, concealment or omission.

C. In cases where criminal charges have been filed involving matters that, if found to be true, would also constitute a violation of the regulations or laws of the regulant's profession enforced by the Department, an investigation may be initiated by the Department at any time within two years following the date such criminal charges are filed.

D. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the filing of a complaint if the alleged violation of the statute or regulation is discovered during the conduct of an inspection authorized by law, and the acts, omissions, or conditions constituting the alleged violations are witnessed by a sworn investigator appointed by the Director.

1994, c. 581; 2004, c. 297; 2005, c. 383.

§ 54.1-308. Departmental expenses.

The compensation of the Director and the employees within the Department, including the compensation of the members of each board, shall be paid out of the total funds collected and charged to the accounts of the respective boards. The Director shall maintain a separate account for each board showing the moneys collected on its behalf and the expenses allocated to each board.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.42; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-308.1. Interest on cash bonds held by regulatory boards of Department.

Interest earned on any cash bond held by the Department on behalf of any regulatory board shall be credited to the Department.

1995, c. 43.

§ 54.1-309. Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation; members, terms, chairman; meetings.

There shall be a Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. The Board shall consist of nine members appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Members shall serve for four-year terms and no member shall serve for more than two full successive terms. The chairman of the Board shall be elected annually by the Board.

The Board shall meet at least once each year and on the call of the chairman when he deems additional meetings necessary.

1979, c. 408, §§ 54-1.23, 54-1.24; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 499; 2012, c. 522.

§ 54.1-310. Powers and duties of Board.

A. The Board shall have the following powers and duties:

1. Provide a means of citizen access to the Department.

2. Provide a means of publicizing the policies and programs of the Department in order to educate the public and elicit public support for Department activities.

3. Monitor the policies and activities of the Department and have the right of access to departmental information.

4. Advise the Governor and the Director on matters relating to the regulation of professions and occupations.

5. Promulgate regulations in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) necessary to carry out its responsibilities.

6. Evaluate constantly each profession and occupation in the Commonwealth not otherwise regulated for consideration as to whether such profession or occupation should be regulated and, if so, the degree of regulation that should be imposed. Whenever it determines that the public interest requires that a profession or occupation which is not regulated by law should be regulated, the Board shall recommend to the General Assembly next convened a regulatory system accompanied by comprehensive regulations necessary to conduct the degree of regulation required.

B. Upon the regulation of a profession or occupation as set forth in subsection A, the Board shall have the power and duty to promulgate supplemental regulations necessary to effectuate the purposes and intent of this chapter and to establish regulatory boards to administer the system of regulation and the regulations recommended by the Board and approved by the General Assembly.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.25; 1984, cc. 720, 734; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-310.1. Petitions for regulation; review by Board; report.

A. Any professional or occupational group or organization, any person, or any other interested party that proposes the regulation of any unregulated professional or occupational group shall submit a request to the Board no later than December 1 of any year for analysis and evaluation during the following year.

B. The Board shall review the request only when filed with a statement of support for the proposed regulation signed by at least 10 members of the professional or occupational group for which regulation is being sought or at least 10 individuals who are not members of the professional or occupational group.

C. The request shall include, at a minimum, the following information:

1. A description of the group proposed for regulation, including a list of associations, organizations, and other groups representing the practitioners in the Commonwealth, and an estimate of the number of practitioners in each group;

2. A definition of the problems to be solved by regulation and the reasons why regulation is necessary;

3. The reasons why registration, certification, licensure, or other type of regulation is being proposed and why that regulatory alternative was chosen;

4. The benefit to the public that would result from the proposed regulation;

5. The cost of the proposed regulation; and

6. A description of any anticipated disqualifications on an applicant for certification, licensure, or renewal and how such disqualifications serve public safety or commercial or consumer protection interests.

D. Upon receipt of a request submitted in accordance with the requirements of subsection C, the Board shall conduct an analysis and evaluation of any proposed regulation based on the criteria enumerated in § 54.1-311.

E. The Board may decline to conduct a review only if it:

1. Previously conducted an analysis and evaluation of the proposed regulation of the same professional or occupational group;

2. Issued a report not more than three years prior to the submission of the current proposal to regulate the same professional or occupational group; and

3. Finds that no new information has been submitted in the request that would cause the Board to alter or modify the recommendations made in its earlier report on the proposed regulation of the professional or occupational group.

F. The Board shall submit a report with its findings on whether the public interest requires the requested professional or occupational group be regulated to the House Committee on General Laws, the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology, and the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules no later than November 1 of the year following the request submission.

2016, c. 467.

§ 54.1-311. Degrees of regulation.

A. Whenever the Board determines that a particular profession or occupation should be regulated, or that a different degree of regulation should be imposed on a regulated profession or occupation, it shall consider the following degrees of regulation in the order provided in subdivisions 1 through 5. The Board shall regulate only to the degree necessary to fulfill the need for regulation and only upon approval by the General Assembly.

1. Private civil actions and criminal prosecutions. -- Whenever existing common law and statutory causes of civil action or criminal prohibitions are not sufficient to eradicate existing harm or prevent potential harm, the Board may first consider the recommendation of statutory change to provide more strict causes for civil action and criminal prosecution.

2. Inspection and injunction. -- Whenever current inspection and injunction procedures are not sufficient to eradicate existing harm, the Board may promulgate regulations consistent with the intent of this chapter to provide more adequate inspection procedures and to specify procedures whereby the appropriate regulatory board may enjoin an activity which is detrimental to the public well-being. The Board may recommend to the appropriate agency of the Commonwealth that such procedures be strengthened or it may recommend statutory changes in order to grant to the appropriate state agency the power to provide sufficient inspection and injunction procedures.

3. Registration. -- Whenever it is necessary to determine the impact of the operation of a profession or occupation on the public, the Board may implement a system of registration.

4. Certification. -- When the public requires a substantial basis for relying on the professional services of a practitioner, the Board may implement a system of certification.

5. Licensing. -- Whenever adequate regulation cannot be achieved by means other than licensing, the Board may establish licensing procedures for any particular profession or occupation.

B. In determining the proper degree of regulation, if any, the Board shall determine the following:

1. Whether the practitioner, if unregulated, performs a service for individuals involving a hazard to the public health, safety or welfare.

2. The opinion of a substantial portion of the people who do not practice the particular profession, trade or occupation on the need for regulation.

3. The number of states which have regulatory provisions similar to those proposed.

4. Whether there is sufficient demand for the service for which there is no regulated substitute and this service is required by a substantial portion of the population.

5. Whether the profession or occupation requires high standards of public responsibility, character and performance of each individual engaged in the profession or occupation, as evidenced by established and published codes of ethics.

6. Whether the profession or occupation requires such skill that the public generally is not qualified to select a competent practitioner without some assurance that he has met minimum qualifications.

7. Whether the professional or occupational associations do not adequately protect the public from incompetent, unscrupulous or irresponsible members of the profession or occupation.

8. Whether current laws which pertain to public health, safety and welfare generally are ineffective or inadequate.

9. Whether the characteristics of the profession or occupation make it impractical or impossible to prohibit those practices of the profession or occupation which are detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.

10. Whether the practitioner performs a service for others which may have a detrimental effect on third parties relying on the expert knowledge of the practitioner.

1979, c. 408, § 54-1.26; 1988, c. 765.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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