State legislative trends in 2019

January 29, 2019

State legislative trends in 2019

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia are now in legislative session. The AICPA’s State Regulation and Legislation team is tracking more than 175 bills that could affect the CPA profession. There are already several legislative trends, including regulatory reform, human resources policies, new cybersecurity and technology regulations and the legalization of marijuana.

Regulatory Reform

In the wake of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC Supreme Court case, states are introducing bills to reform their regulatory system. The bills aim to reduce occupational licensing requirements, including eliminating?? annual reviews of regulations and requiring active supervision of boards. Many of these bills, intentionally or not, negatively affect the CPA profession. This trend is continuing into 2019, with 12 states introducing bills that would reduce licensing requirements in some way. More states are expected to introduce similar bills as their legislative sessions continue.

Human Resources

Due to a perceived lack of federal action, states are increasingly looking at policies that affect employers and their employees. Topics under consideration include family and medical leave, the consideration of applicants’ criminal histories and salary history during the hiring process, anti-arbitration provisions, and equal pay. Sixty human resources bills from 22 states and the District of Columbia are under consideration this year, and more are expected to follow. For example, California Governor Gavin Newsome (D) announced a proposal to expand the state’s six-week family paid leave program to six months.

Cybersecurity and Technology

As technology evolves, state governments are examining new approaches for regulating technology innovations. Many businesses, including CPA firms, collect and maintain financial and personal client information. Proposals to protect this personal data and deal with potential data breaches are under consideration. The increased use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, have resulted in the introduction of bills implementing blockchain use in state government and allowing taxpayers to pay taxes with cryptocurrencies. To date, lawmakers in 12 states introduced cybersecurity and technology related bills.


Eight states currently regulate and tax marijuana for personal and medicinal use. Vermont and the District of Columbia allow adults to use marijuana, but do not allow for its sale. Additionally, 21 states have laws allowing medical marijuana. The trend to pass marijuana laws, both medical and recreational, continues this year with five states considering proposals to legalize medical marijuana. Two additional state legislatures are considering bills to legalize recreational marijuana use. CPAs in states with legal marijuana are looking to their state boards of accountancy for guidance on providing CPA services to marijuana clients. So far, 13 state boards have issued such guidance.