September 24, 2020

Wisconsin Drops CPA Exam Education Requirement to 120 Units After Accidentally Dropping All Requirements Completely

Every time I write about a legislative event be it MACPA's CPA Day or AICPA Council, you guys seem to tune out. Who cares? This is boring! MOAR MEMES!

The reason you should care is that lawmakers aren't exactly the brightest crayons in the box. If they are allowed to run wild with laws that directly impact the profession while no one is watching, they might end up screwing things up big time. That's exactly what just happened in Wisconsin:

From WICPA:

In response to a legislator’s October 2013 request for co-sponsors of a proposal to eliminate statutory education requirements for all Wisconsin licensing exams, the WICPA requested that the Uniform CPA Examination be exempted from this legislation. Assembly and Senate bills were then introduced streamlining the issuance of licenses by eliminating license exam education requirements, allowing individuals to enter the workforce sooner after passing licensing exams. Since the bills’ provision to eliminate all education requirements for Wisconsin licensing examinations did not receive publicity, the WICPA was among the few organizations to express opposition to this provision. The bills proceeded swiftly through the legislature and became law (2013 Wisconsin Act 114) in late December.  
 
Since the organizations administering the national Uniform CPA Exam (i.e., American Institute of CPAs, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and Prometric) have NOT prescribed CPA Exam education requirements, the new law passed in December 2013 effectively eliminated all education requirements for candidates taking the Uniform Wisconsin CPA Exam in Wisconsin.

I know candidates are thinking "AWESOME, that sounds like a fantastic law!" but The Powers That Be were not entertained:

Shortly after enactment of the new law, the WICPA met with legislators and representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board (AEB) and the governor’s office to encourage prompt reinstatement of a CPA Exam education requirement to avoid losing the Uniform CPA Exam in Wisconsin, which both the AICPA and NASBA stated would be a strong possibility in the absence of any statutory CPA Exam education requirement.

For some reason, some lawmakers really wanted future CPAs in Wisconsin to be able to sit with 120 units, so in order to get the education requirements they needed, Wisconsin had to let those folks have their way:

WICPA member and Assembly Rep. Howard Marklein, CPA introduced a bill to reflect technical updates to Wisconsin accountancy regulations. Consequently, as a result of various meetings and communications, WICPA member and Assembly Rep. Dale Kooyenga, CPA introduced an amendment to this bill reinstating a Uniform CPA Exam education requirement. Due to expressed opposition from some legislators to a 150-credit-hour CPA Exam education requirement (which could have jeopardized the reinstatement of any CPA Exam education requirement), the amendment provided for a 120-credit-hour exam education requirement that is currently applied in 30 states, rather than the 150 credit hours that continues to be required for CPA licensing in all states (including Wisconsin). In other words, 120 credit hours are now required to take the Uniform CPA Exam, and 150 credit hours are required for the CPA license. This bill unanimously passed the Assembly on Feb. 11 and the Senate on March 18, and was signed by Gov. Walker on April 8.

See now why it's important to keep an eye on those sneaky little lawmakers? WICPA doesn't seemed thrilled about any of this but 120 units to sit is a lot better than whatever, who cares!

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