On Saturday, December 1st, it became official. The revised regulations were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and now all licensed accountants in Pennsylvania must obtain at least four hours of CPE in ethics during each renewal.  Pennsylvania has not made this ethics requirement state or statute specific, so any ethics course from any approved sponsor is acceptable.  Be sure to obtain your 4 hours from an approved sponsor before December 31, 2013.
             
Speaking of approved program sponsors, the new regulations clean up what entities are approved sponsors, which will eliminate most of the prosecution that has historically resulted from courses not being approved by the Board.  Now any sponsor who is approved by the state board of another state that has substantial equivalency is deemed to be an approved sponsor along with anyone who is NASBA approved.  This is good for PA accountants because all of our neighboring states and almost every state has substantial equivalency.

In other items of interest, the Board did elect to maintain “specialized knowledge and applications” as an approved subject area. CPAs further retained the ability to obtain CPE credit for authorship of writings.  However, to receive credit for authorship each licensee must receive approval from the Board prior to renewal for these credits to apply, so if you are considering this, please keep the time constraints in mind and review the regulations for the specific requirements. 
          
Also published the same day, were regulations adopted by the Board which set forth a schedule of civil penalties for first offenses for CPE violations and unlicensed practice.  Hopefully, the prosecutors who handle accounting licensing cases will begin to use this process for these “minor violations” rather than the formal filing that results in a hearing and full prosecution. Further, it is hoped that someday there will be legislation that passes allowing expungement of these “minor violations”.  Legislation was introduced in the last session by Representative Harper [HB 646]that would have made this the law.  Unfortunately, while it passed the house (unanimously I believe), it stalled in the Senate and never came out of committee.  Therefore, this legislation will have to be reintroduced in the next legislative session.
             
Here are links to the PA Bulletin where these regulations were published.  
http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol42/42-48/2312.html  (Continuing Professional Education)
http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol42/42-48/2313.html  (Schedule of Civil Penalties)
           
If you have any ethics or licensing questions please contact me at jmcguire@c-wlaw.com.  Please sign up for any of my ethics courses through PICPA or contact me if you wish an in house ethics course.