Legislature(1995 - 1996)
01/30/1996 08:00 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 382 - EXTEND BOARD OF DISPENSING OPTICIANS HB 404 - EXTENDING BOARD OF CHIROPRACTORS HB 405 - EXTEND BOARD OF OPTOMETRISTS Number 1730 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was CSHB 382(STA), CSHB 404(STA), and CSHB 405(STA). CHAIR JAMES called on Walter Wilcox, Committee Aide, House State Affairs Committee. WALTER WILCOX, Committee Aide, House State Affairs Committee, said the three bills before them were returned to the House State Affairs Committee by the House Finance Committee to incorporate the recommendations of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee mentioned in the previous committee meeting. Mr. Wilcox said Catherine Reardon, Director, Central Office, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development reviewed and agreed with the recommendations as stated in her memorandum dated January 24, 1996. He also referred the committee members to the memorandum by Randy Welker, Legislative Auditor, dated January 17, 1996, which summarized his suggestions. He further said CSHB 382(STA), CSHB 404(STA), and CSHB 405(STA) were given the same expiration date, the year 2002. He alleged the only controversy was in CSHB 405(STA) between the optometrists and dispensing opticians. He deferred to Ms. Reardon for additional questions. Number 1831 CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Central Office, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, said she did not want to overemphasize the conflict between the optometrists and the dispensing opticians, but over the years there had been the discussion if optometrists had to employee opticians or apprentices in their office if they wanted staff to dispense glasses and contacts. The audit suggested the issue be put to rest. She said there were two bills that exempted the employees of optometrists from the requirement in previous sessions. The bills did not pass, however. She alleged the discussion might delay the extension of the boards. In conclusion, Ms. Reardon asserted the Department of Commerce and Economic Development did not take a stand on this issue. Number 1952 MR. WILCOX requested Ms. Reardon walk the committee through each bill and discuss the changes. Number 1968 MS. REARDON said CSHB 382(STA) extended the Board of Dispensing Opticians to the year 2002. The rest of the bill, she stated, addressed licensing requirements. The bill removed reciprocity and established a licensure by credentials, whereby an optician licensed in another state where requirements were substantially equivalent to or higher than those of Alaska would be issued a license without an examination. She said Section 5, page 2, AS 08.71.150, repealed the reciprocity statute. Number 2060 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked if the bill being discussed was the same bill as the committee previously discussed. Number 2070 MR. WILCOX replied this was a committee substitute. MS. REARDON answered the changes were the removal of licensure by reciprocity, the fine tuning of licensure by credentials, and the expiration date. Number 2102 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to adopt the committee substitute. Hearing no objection, it was so adopted. Number 2110 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that CSHB 382(STA) move from the committee with the attached fiscal note and individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was moved out of the House State Affairs Committee. Number 2127 MR. WILCOX asked Ms. Reardon to clarify the changes to CSHB 404(STA). Number 2133 MS. REARDON said the CSHB 404(STA) repealed the licensure by credential option, which stated the board could issue a license without examination with proof of a license in another state. However, she announced, the board was not able to determine if the exams were equivalent so consequently everyone was required to take the examination. She asserted the repealed statutes would clear the confusion. Number 2186 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved the committee adopt the substitute and move CSHB 404(STA) from the committee with the attached fiscal note and individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was moved out of the House State Affairs Committee. Number 2220 MR. WILCOX said CSHB 405(STA) extended the date of the Board of Optometry to the year 2002 and the recommendations suggested by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee were incorporated. He stated CSHB 405(STA) was the controversial bill as Ms. Reardon explained in her earlier testimony. Mr. Wilcox called on Ms. Reardon to explain the changes. Number 2230 MS. REARDON stated CSHB 405(STA) reflected the recommendations of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. Section 2, she said, deleted the application for an examination fifteen days before the exam and allowed the division to establish the deadline to ease administration. Section 3, she said, clarified the controversy mentioned earlier as the substituted bill now read an optician must be registered as an apprentice. Section 4, she stated, repealed the licensing of branch offices. She said the board had not been following this statute as it did not seem necessary to obtain a different license for each branch office. Ms. Reardon further said Section 4 repealed the 20/40 visual acuity and the infectious disease provisions. It was recommended to delete the above mentioned provisions due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ms. Reardon asserted an optometrist found practicing with an infectious disease without protection would be subject to incompetence charges. Number 2344 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if there was a similar requirement for doctors and dentists. Number 2350 MS. REARDON replied there was not a requirement to get a license. She cited infectious diseases came and went, and at the point the individual became infected it was necessary to exercise protection. She reiterated it was not recommended as a licensing provision. Number 2373 CHAIR JAMES mentioned the visual acuity requirement and asked if it was possible a blind optician could do the required work. Number 2381 MS. REARDON replied there were probably certain portions of the work a blind optician could not perform. She further stated the repeal of Section 4 did not require the employment of an individual who could not perform the duties. CHAIR JAMES responded Ms. Reardon was talking about an optician and not an optometrist. MS. REARDON apologized as she was confused about which sections Chair James was referring to. MS. REARDON again answered she was not sure if a blind optometrist could perform successfully, but the opportunity needed to be available. Number 2451 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if it was difficult for an assistant as mentioned in Section 3 to obtain a certificate. TAPE 96-6, SIDE B Number 0000 MS. REARDON read the following statement. "An apprentice has to register with the department before beginning employment as an apprentice and shall be in training and under the direct supervision of a licensed physician optometrist or dispensing optician. You may not serve as an apprentice for longer than six years without advancing to your full optician license, unless you get special permission from the board explaining why you were not able to complete the program in the six years. No more than two apprentices may be under the direct supervision of one licensed dispensing optician at the same time." MS. REARDON stated it might be a problem if individuals did not want to advance to a licensed dispensing optician, but rather continue as an apprentice. Number 0014 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER inquired if an optometrist would have to employee a licensed optician to supervise the apprentice. Number 0023 MS. REARDON responded the statute read an apprentice could be supervised by a licensed physician, optometrist, or dispensing optician. She asserted it limited opticians, but not optometrists. MS. REARDON read AS 08.72.181(b) into the record. "An optometrist licensed in this state and serving in the military service of the United States, while in the discharge of official duties, may maintain eligibility to practice in this state without paying a renewal fee by registering the optometrist's name and place of residence with the department." MR. WILCOX announced the repeal of the above read statute, AS 08.72.181(b), was removed from CSHB 405(STA). MS. REARDON asked the committee members to ignore her recent testimony as it had been removed from the bill. In conclusion, she stated, there were only three repealers in Section 4, the branch office licensing, the visual acuity, and the infectious disease provisions. Number 0103 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN asked if there were any witnesses to testify on CSHB 405(STA). Number 0114 MR. WILCOX replied Randy Welker, Division of Legislative Audit, was here to answer any questions as well. Number 0118 RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, Legislative Audit Division, Legislative Agencies and Offices, said he would be happy to answer any questions. Number 0131 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated he was interested in hearing from a witness in the industry. Number 0140 CHAIR JAMES asked if the issue in Section 3 of CSHB 405(STA) was whether or not a person working for am optometrist needed to be an apprenticed optician. MR. WELKER responded Chair James was correct. He explained it did not matter where an optician worked, the standards should be applied to everyone in the field. Number 0195 CHAIR JAMES stated the section required those working under a dispensing optician needed to be licensed as an apprentice. Number 0234 MR. WELKER responded Chair James was correct. He alleged the registration as an apprentice was not an onerous task as it only required the intention of licensure. He asserted Section 3 evened the responsibility among everyone. Number 0260 CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any opticians or optometrists to testify, and wondered it they were aware of the changes. Number 0272 MR. WILCOX replied there was testimony on the first bill, and said he informed the head of the board. He further said CSHB 405(STA) would be in the House Finance Committee next week where witnesses would have the opportunity to testify. Number 0283 CHAIR JAMES replied the House Finance Committee would not like the bill to be passed on without proper review. Number 0289 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he would like to hear from the industry as well. He asked if there was the potential people might lose their jobs now that certification was required. He commented he was concerned about the people already working under the old statute and how it would affect them. Number 0312 MR. WELKER said the six year clock would start upon registration as an apprentice. Number 0325 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked what the standard of practice was in other states. She also inquired what would happen to individuals who did not want to progress in their current position. Number 0342 MR. WELKER replied it was first necessary to determine if the field of opticinary required licensing. He stated less than half of the states in the U.S. licensed opticians. If it was deemed necessary to require licensure then, he asserted, it was necessary to require everyone to follow accordingly no matter where they worked. He further said the issue had been debated before and the department always agreed it was necessary for the public's best interest to require licensing. Number 0390 CHAIR JAMES wondered if there were any claims of injury from the public as a direct result of an optician not being licensed. Number 0425 MR. WELKER said he was not aware of any significant concern. Number 0430 MS. REARDON said there were complaints about unlicensed practice. She offered to call the investigator for further information. Number 0444 CHAIR JAMES asserted she would like to hold CSHB 405(STA) until the committee heard testimony from the industry. Number 0465 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if there was a problem with the extension date. CHAIR JAMES replied the extension date was extended to the year 2002. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if a delay would interfere with the extension of the board. MR. WILCOX replied, no, because the bill did not expire until June 30, 1996. Number 0475 MR. WILCOX stated the last issue to address was penalties for practicing without a license. He said a bill would be read today on the floor addressing that issue. Number 0488 CHAIR JAMES said the issue was not incorporated into the bills because it was a broad subject that encompassed all occupational licenses. Porter 0494 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested putting Section 3 of CSHB 405(STA) in the above mentioned bill, and leave CSHB 405(STA) as an extension of the board only. Number 0500 CHAIR JAMES said that was a possible option.