Grassroots and Lobbyist Efforts Making a Difference
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
On Thursday, August 24th, the Assembly Committee on Regulatory and Licensing Reform and Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations held a joint public hearing on Assembly Bill 369, its companion Senate Bill 288, Assembly Bill 370 and its companion Senate Bill 296. Joint public hearings are not very common, and when they are held, it is typically a sign that the majority party are trying to move and pass legislation very quickly. The meeting is also usually posted with very short notice, which is what was done in this case as well.
This past June, these bills were introduced to create an Occupational Licensing Review Council within the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to create a new self-certification registry and modify or eliminate occupational licenses that do not improve the health and safety for patients or the public. Assembly Bill 370 was particularly troubling because it required DSPS to specifically report if several occupational licensed professions should eliminate their credentialing and certification requirements. One of those occupations listed were dietitians.
Also arbitrarily included in the bill were auctioneers, landscape architects, private detectives, private security persons and sign language interpreters. These groups, and a coalition of almost two dozen more joined forces with WAND to oppose the bills. Dozens of people from the listed groups and others came to the public hearing to testify in opposition in what proved to be an informative, lengthy and at times tense public hearing.
WAND President-elect Laura Isaacson testified alongside WAND Government Affairs Associate Dan Carpenter in opposition to the bills. Laura did an excellent job representing WAND and talking about her occupation as a registered dietitian nutritionist. Her testimony and that from other groups, most notably the landscape architects and sign language interpreters, were impactful and showed legislators how these bills would negatively impact many professionals around the state.
After more than six hours of testimony and hearing from the public, we received good news from the bill authors as they agreed to work on amendments to address concerns from those who testified. For AB 369, this includes providing the public with the chance to weigh in and provide feedback regarding the Occupational License Review Council and the process it will use to determine if some occupational licenses are deemed unnecessary. For AB 370, this includes removing the language that specifically mentions dietitians for elimination of credentials and certification.
This is good news but this is not the end of this. We need to stay vigilant on this issue moving forward because it seems there is a desire by some in the majority party to move these bills through the legislative process. As such, it is important for us to make sure our professional voice is heard and it is very important for every member of WAND to call their legislators and urge them to oppose these bills. Lots of coordinated and significant grassroots efforts helped gain a small win on August 24th, and that is certainly important. But, there is a lot more work to do and we need YOUR help. Please call your legislators today and ask them to oppose Assembly Bill 369 and Assembly Bill 370.
I'm happy to report that two bills WAND has been working on this session will have public hearings the week of September 5th. The first of these bills is AB 473, allowing physicians to delegate order-writing authority to RDNs in nursing homes or facilities serving people with disabilities. The other bill we are working on with the School Nutrition Association is AB 215, known as The Nutrition Education Act. AB 215 requires DPI to modify its nutrition education standards to include knowledge of the nutritive value of foods and the role of a nutritious diet in promoting health in the required 0.5 credit of health education in schools.
Please contact WAND's Government Affairs Associate Dan Carpenter for more information via phone at 608-310-8832 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information and are interested in testifying.