Institute for Justice Arizona Engineer Licensing Lawsuit

Institute for Justice client Greg Mills at work.

An Arizona state regulatory board is being sued for allegedly trying to shut down a Maricopa County engineering firm because its owner doesn’t have a state-issued engineering license despite working in the industry for decades.  

The libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice is representing Greg Mills in a lawsuit filed in a Maricopa County court against the Arizona Board of Technical Registration.

Mills, who’s worked for decades as an engineer in the state for various companies, in 2008 started his own engineering firm called Southwest Engineering Concepts. The firm tests and builds circuits. 

The lawsuit, however, alleges that the board, made up of nine state-appointed officials from different technical fields, said he needed to obtain an engineering license from the state, a process that takes eight years by working for a licensed engineering company. The board also fined Mills and his business $6,000.   

The Institute for Justice says what the board has done to Mills is in violation of his constitutional rights. The lawsuit asks the court to determine if the board’s definition of an “engineering practice” is unconstitutionally vague, and questions the board’s authority as having unlawful legislative authority.

“I have 30 years of experience designing and building electronic circuits,” Mills said in a statement. “There are satellites in space using circuits that I’ve designed. And yet Arizona says I can’t design something as simple as a flashlight or a battery-powered misting system without getting a useless license. Arizona prides itself on having a business-friendly climate.”

“I shouldn’t have to go back to being someone else’s employee for eight years just so I can keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing for my entire career,” he added. 

The group says 80 percent of engineers around the country are not licensed, and typically laws only require engineers who work on public projects like roads and bridges to be licensed.

“The Board’s definition of engineering is so vague that nearly anyone designing or building anything in Arizona could conceivably require a burdensome and unnecessary license,” said Paul Avelar, an Institute for Justice attorney working on the case. “Practically no one in Arizona who has built something is outside the reach of the Board’s claim of broad regulatory powers.”

The Arizona Board of Technical Registration did not respond to a request for comment.

Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.