McKenna on KIRO: Oregon engineer fined for saying he’s an engineer

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the case of Mats Järlström of Beaverton, Oregon, who appealed a red light camera ticket, noting problems with the yellow light timing. He brought the issue to the attention of the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

The board was not only uninterested, they told him that, as an unlicensed engineer in Oregon, even just referring to himself as an engineer is illegal. The board fined him $500 for the offense, even though Järlström earned a degree in electrical engineering in Sweden and wasn’t attempting to work commercially as an engineer.

Dave Ross: “And so now he’s decided to go to court and sue them on the basis of the 1st Amendment, saying that his free speech rights include the right to be able to do a math calculation and present that to the government.”

Rob McKenna: “Yeah, the 1st Amendment protects your right to do math and talk about it, I think is his basic point. And I think his case is bolstered by the fact that the same engineering licensing board in Oregon has gone after other individuals who have cited engineering training in non-commercial settings…

“So this is an example of kind of a runaway licensing system, where everything you want to do these days needs to be licensed. I mean, hair braiders have to have licenses in a lot of places. And it really cuts against the ability of people to make a living.

“But here, we’re talking about individuals who weren’t even trying to make a living, they were just trying to exercise their rights as citizens.”

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