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Minnesota Throws TPTB the Finger and Introduces Legislation to Offer an Alternate Pathway to CPA Licensure

Minnesota State Capitol

It was only a couple days ago that the Journal of Accountancy published an interview with NASBA CEO and President Ken Bishop in which Bishop sternly warns states against even thinking about lowering the CPA licensure requirement to 120 units, something something mobility blah blah. To save you a click, here’s a relevant snip of that JofA article and his comments, published February 10:

“Should any state or jurisdiction lower the licensure requirement to 120 hours, their CPAs would no longer be automatically substantially equivalent and would no longer enjoy the mobility and reciprocal practice privileges they currently are afforded,” NASBA President and CEO Ken Bishop said in an interview with the JofA. “Lowering the bar to 120 hours is only one of the alternatives we have heard that has been discussed and considered. Others, including lowering the cut score for passing the CPA Exam, have the potential and risk of creating the perception of dumbing down the profession. No one is talking about, for example, lowering the bar to become an attorney, and they’re also suffering from lack of entry.”

Bishop said the NASBA board vote was prompted by “a few state society staff members but not the profession in general” considering action that would create different pathways to CPA licensure. Bishop understands the sentiment behind the consideration but stressed that any changes on the state level that don’t align with the UAA would be counterproductive for the profession.

“If I was a society CEO and I had some members who were having trouble hiring CPAs knocking on my door, I would be trying to react. We’re not saying don’t react; we’re saying let’s do it in a uniform way,” Bishop said. “What really gets our attention is something that has an opportunity to disturb or completely adulterate the substantial equivalency, mobility, reciprocal licensure — things that we’re working to protect and maintain.

Given this, it is our pleasure to inform you that bills have been introduced to the Minnesota legislature — HF 1749 and SF 1660 — that would add an alternative pathway of 120 units and two years experience, while leaving the option to go down the state’s existing 150 hour path as well.

MNCPA calls it “broadening the path to licensure” and from their perspective, it’s not a dumbing down at all. And if those opposed to the change think it is, then those people are saying that 30 arbitrary units of education do more to prepare the entry level CPA than two years of experience in the field under the supervision of a CPA.

Some points provided by MNCPA to clarify concerns about the change:

  • The MNCPA does not believe that legislation to broaden the licensing requirements is a magic solution and candidates will flock to the CPA exam. It is one part of a multi-layered campaign to promote the accounting profession and make it an attractive career choice to students. [Ed. note: We agree. The 150 hour rule is not a dam holding back a flood of people who would become CPAs if only 150 weren’t blocking the way. Tweaking the rule does, however, remove a barrier thereby letting in a few more people who are deterred by 150.]
  • The MNCPA initiative does not eliminate 150-college credit hours with one year of work experience as a path to licensure. That should remain an option for candidates who have the means and time to take the additional credits.
  • The MNCPA initiative does not lower the bar to become a CPA. More than 40 states allow candidates to sit the for the CPA exam with 120 college credits. The CPA exam, which all candidates must pass, is the unifying qualification to become a CPA. Additionally, all states have education, ethics and work experience with varying requirements.
  • Each state determines their rules to become a CPA, maintain a CPA certificate and regulate the activities of CPAs. While there is a set of model rules, no state has fully adopted them and there currently exists a variety of differences between states. For example, some states require a candidate to have 150 college credits before sitting for the exam. Most allow sitting with only 120 college credits. Even with this difference, states are considered substantially equivalent.

Understand that this is a big deal. Also understand that TPTB are not happy about this (TPTB being the AICPA, NASBA, and especially Ken Bishop who just got clowned after that big passionate, suspiciously timed speech for JofA). There are many conversations to be had about mobility of course, we’ll keep an eye out for those. For now, this is only just now coming up in the legislature, it’s not a guarantee the rules will change. It certainly opens the floor for further discussion.

Anyway, here’s the bill in full, you already got the TL;DR. Old language has been struck, new language is underlined. It’s so nice to be able to use strikethrough for something other than snide comments for once.

A bill for an act
relating to certified public accountants; amending standards for required education
and experience; amending Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 326A.03, subdivisions
3a, 6.


Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 326A.03, subdivision 3a, is amended to read:
     Subd. 3a. Early examination. Notwithstanding any contrary provision in this section,
the board may adopt rules to permit a person under certain circumstances:
          (1) to apply for the examination within 180 days prior to the person’s anticipated
completion of the education requirements as defined in subdivision 6; and

          (2) to take all or a part of the examination within 90 days of the anticipated completion
of the education requirements. No credit shall be given for any part of the examination taken
before completion of the education requirements in subdivision 3 unless:

          (i) the education requirements in subdivision 3 and adopted rule requirements are met
within 120 days after taking any part of the examination; and

          (ii) documentation of completion of education requirements is received by the board
within 150 days of the person taking any part of the examination.

EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective July 1, 2023.
Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 326A.03, subdivision 6, is amended to read:
     Subd. 6. Certificate; required education and experience. (a) On or after July 1, 2006
2023, a person who has passed the examination required in this section must be granted a
certificate as a certified public accountant provided the person provides one of the following
certifications; the board verifies the certification; and the person complies with requirements
for initial issuance of the certificate as a certified public accountant as prescribed by the
board by rule:
          (1) the person certifies to the board that the person has completed at least 150 semester
or 225 quarter hours at a college or university that is fully accredited by a recognized
accrediting agency listed with the United States Department of Education, or an equivalent
accrediting association, and has completed at least one year of experience of the type
specified in paragraph (b);
          (2) the board verifies the certifications; and (3) the person complies with requirements
for initial issuance of the certificate as a certified public accountant as prescribed by the
board by rule. the person certifies to the board that the person has completed at least 120
semester or 180 quarter hours at a college or university that is fully accredited by a recognized
accrediting agency listed with the United States Department of Education, or an equivalent
accrediting association, and has completed at least two years of experience of the type
specified in paragraph (b); or

          (3) the person certifies to the board that the person has completed 120 semester or 180
quarter hours at a college or university that is fully accredited by a recognized accrediting
agency listed with the United States Department of Education, or an equivalent accrediting
association, and has completed at least one year of experience of the type specified in
paragraph (b), and completed 120 hours of professional education within one year of applying
for licensure as provided for in 326A.04, subdivision 4. Professional education hours
completed under this clause must be taken by a provider accredited by the National
Association of State Boards of Accountancy or as defined in board rules for professional
education and shall not qualify to meet professional education hours required after initial
          (b) An applicant for initial issuance of a certificate under this subdivision shall show
that the applicant has had one year of meet the experience requirements as defined in
paragraph (a), clause (1), (2), or (3). Acceptable experience includes providing any type of
service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory,
financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills, as verified by a licensee and meeting requirements
prescribed by the board by rule. Acceptable experience may be gained through employment
in government, industry, academia, or public practice. Experience as an auditor in the Office
of the Legislative Auditor or State Auditor, as verified by a licensee, shall be acceptable

EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective July 1, 2023.

4 thoughts on “Minnesota Throws TPTB the Finger and Introduces Legislation to Offer an Alternate Pathway to CPA Licensure

  1. Like most things, incentives will rule. You can increase CPA’s through either increasing the reward, or lowering the cost. No one wants to actually accept this though and bite the bullet to fix it. Industry/PA don’t want to pay more, organizations want to keep their lobby interests and not “dilute” the industry, and educators want that sweet sweet grad school money they rake in for that extra 30 hours. We’ll just keep crying out to the sky “Where have all the accountants gone” while wearing blindfolds to the issues and potential fixes.

  2. February 17, 2023
    Courtney Vien, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Accountancy
    Brian Strickland, Author, NASBA upholds 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure.
    Dear Ms. Vien and Mr. Strickland,
    We are writing today to express our concerns relating to your recent article titled “NASBA upholds 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure.” As the leading publication among financial decision makers, it is crucial the Journal of Accountancy always operates with a high level of journalistic integrity. Unfortunately, it is our opinion that this article currently fails to provide accurate, fair, and thorough information. We encourage you to update the story and include additional context, alternative voices, and an opportunity for those criticized/questioned to respond. If that cannot be accomplished, we encourage you to retract the story.
    We want to be clear; we are not objecting to the JofA publishing an article focusing on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Board of Directors’ recent vote to affirm their commitment to 150-hour education requirement. It is a topic worthy of coverage by the JofA; however, this article, in our opinion, strays from a factual retelling of the vote. Instead, it gives Ken Bishop an editorial column masquerading as news. This is hugely problematic.
    By relying on Bishop as the sole source of the story, readers lack important and necessary context. Opinions are represented as fact. There is an air of favorability. We do not think this was your intention; however, we are particularly challenged by the absence of comment from the objects of Bishop’s criticism, state society CEOs and staff. These ethical errors can be corrected. We draw your attention to the ethical principles of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
    The SPJ – “the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior”1 – outlines four principles that serve as the foundation of ethical journalism [Code of Ethics]. These principles, SPJ encourages, should be practiced by all people in all media, JofA included. The four principles are: Seek Truth and Report It; Minimize Harm; Act Independently; Be Accountable and Transparent. Under each principle are ethical statements journalists should abide by. This article, in its current form, fails to meet the standards set forth by the SPJ. We assume these are unintentional and wish to bring them to your attention. We are concerned by the article’s failure to meet ethical standards in each of the four pillars, specifically:
    • Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting,
    previewing, or summarizing a story.
    • Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
    • Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
    • Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or
    allegations of wrongdoing.
    • Label advocacy and commentary.

    • Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of
    publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
    • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    • Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors, or other special interests, and resist
    internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
    • Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage, and news content.
    • Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity, and fairness.
    • Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain
    corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
    The JofA has become a leading publication because of readers’ trust. You help our members navigate their rapidly changing complex environment. Articles such as this, ones that leave out important facts, aren’t truthful.
    “Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness,” according to a Pew Research Center study. “Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map. The map also should include news of all our communities, not just those with attractive demographics. This is best achieved by newsrooms with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The map is only an analogy; proportion and comprehensiveness are subjective, yet their elusiveness does not lessen their significance.”2
    In closing, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the controversial nature of the human capital problem, particularly the solutions. It’s important to be very clear, by signing this letter, the signatories are not endorsing nor advocating for any solution or change. We are advocating for journalistic integrity and the adherence to high ethical standards as you cover the issue. Without integrity and standards, our members struggle to make informed decisions when it comes to the relevancy and sustainability of their chosen profession.
    Thank you for your valuable contributions to the profession. Signed:
    Kari Bedell
    Executive Director
    Greater Washington Society of CPAs
    Sharon Bryson, M. Ed
    North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants
    Crista Burson
    President & CEO
    Alaska Society of Certified Public Accountants

    Kathy Castillo
    Executive Director Hawaii Society of CPAs
    Bob Doyle
    President & CEO
    Michigan Association of CPAs
    Jeanette Contreras
    President and CEO
    New Mexico Society of CPAs
    Anna Durst, CPA, CGMA
    Chief Executive Officer
    Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants
    Kara Fitzgerald, CPA
    Tennessee Society of CPAs
    Danielle Hologram, CAE
    President & CEO
    The Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants
    Chris Jenkins
    Chief Executive Officer
    South Carolina Association of CPAs
    Courtney Kincaid, CAE, IOM, MPA
    President & CEO Indiana CPA Society
    Allen Lloyd, CAE
    Executive Director Montana Society of CPAs
    Amy Pitter
    President and CEO Massachusetts Society of CPAs
    Deborah L. Riley
    Executive Director & CEO Vermont Society of CPAs
    Kimberly Scott, CAE
    President & CEO Washington Society of CPAs

    Boyd Search, CAE, MBA
    President & CEO
    The Georgia Society of CPAs
    Susan Speirs, CPA, CGMA
    Utah Association of CPAs
    Joni Sundquist
    President/Executive Director Nebraska Society of CPAs
    Linda Wedul, CAE
    President and CEO
    Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants
    Scott D. Wiley, CAE
    President & CEO
    The Ohio Society of CPAs
    Oliver Yandle, JD, CAE
    President & CEO Arizona Society of CPAs
    Darlene Zibart
    Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants

  3. If the CPA does not change, it will cease to exist. The change is not about big data; as a matter of fact, accountants use mostly SQL and not machine learning or AI. The CPA pass rate is low and not hard but arduous. Why would a student go for a CPA and make xx $ when s/he can take data science and make xxxx $? My fair is that the CPA as we know it will not not exist in the next 5 years because of declining enrollments.

  4. The 150 credit requirement from the start is pointless, it took a 4 year degree and made it 5, with no additional requirements to take the additional credits in accounting or related fields. Students can take physical education classes, or whatever to make it to 150, firms are not looking at what classes made up the 150 just that they have 150 to sit for the exam. So what is the point? make higher ed richer by forcing students to pay for masters level classes rather than undergrad credits?

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