Choosing to Participate in the Political Process

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It is rare for people to be able to see that regulation of the accounting profession is a highly political issue, both inside and outside of the professional community. Regulation and legislation involve political choices. Choosing not to participate in the political process relieves one of responsibility for making tough decisions, but, on the other hand, not participating is akin to giving up. People who don’t participate in the process cannot complain about legislation or regulation that they think is a mistake.

Senate and Assembly Bills

Here in New York, State Senator Ken LaValle introduced a bill that would update the state accountancy law for the first time in decades. This bill passed the State Senate unanimously for the second consecutive year. The NYSSCPA has endorsed this bill because it would finally bring the profession up to date in many key areas, including making peer review mandatory for all CPAs in public practice; regulating all CPAs, including those in industry; and enhancing requirements for continuing professional education (CPE). This is the only bill affecting public accountancy to come out of the Senate Higher Education Committee in the last few years, and the reforms are much needed, by both the professional community and the public interest that it serves.

In the State Assembly, an alternative proposal was introduced by Assemblyman Ron Canestrari that not only omitted some important reforms included in the Senate bill, such as mandatory peer review and enhanced CPE, but also contained provisions that would be extremely harmful to the profession’s ability to serve the public, including setting exorbitant penalties against CPAs and CPA firms, authorizing nonlicensees to perform compilations, and adapting provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in ways that would create conflicting state and federal regulations. Fortunately, efforts by CPAs throughout New York showed State Assembly members that this proposal was strongly opposed by the profession. As a result, this bill was stopped in the Assembly Rules Committee and did not reach the floor for a vote. This was a prime example of grassroots politics—legislators hearing directly from their constituent local CPAs and CPA firms—and it made a huge difference.

Acting on Priorities

The legislature’s first priority upon returning from its recess will have been to finalize and approve the annual state budget; this is as it should be, given that the actual deadline was April 1.

Thus far, the Senate has reached out to the Assembly, indicating its interest to build on areas of common ground regarding regulation of accountancy, and our hope is that both houses will work together toward meaningful reform. It is important that legislators hear from their constituent CPAs at this time. I ask all NYSSCPA members, if they haven’t already done so, to contact their state legislators and ask them to support the Senate and Assembly collaborating in this vital area. As long as it’s taken to get here, there’s no reason not to get it right.

Louis Grumet
Publisher, The CPA Journal
Executive Director, NYSSCPA





















The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

©2009 The New York State Society of CPAs. Legal Notices


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