Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/26/2010 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:01:45 AM Start
08:02:18 AM Confirmations for Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development
08:34:33 AM HB110
08:57:05 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 110(HSS) Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
           HB 110-PSYCHOLOGISTS' LICENSING & PRACTICE                                                                       
8:34:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS  announced consideration  of  HB  110 [CSHB  110                                                               
(HSS) 26-LS0474\R was before the committee].                                                                                    
8:34:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON,  sponsor of HB  110, said HB 110  hopes to                                                               
clarify  the   current  statute   regarding  the   licensing  and                                                               
regulation of psychologists  in Alaska. It aligns  the exams that                                                               
are available and  clarifies who can practice  psychology and the                                                               
associated   practices   with   it.  School   physiologists   and                                                               
government  employees   can  practice  outside  of   the  current                                                               
statutes.   It does not limit  the work of mental  health service                                                               
providers in Alaska.                                                                                                            
SENATOR OLSON asked if the department supports this.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS replied yes.                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR THOMAS commented that there  are a variety of letters of                                                               
support accompanying the bill.                                                                                                  
SENATOR DAVIS said she is in support of HB 110.                                                                                 
8:37:26 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PHILLIP  BAKER,   Legislative  Chair,  Alaska  Psychological                                                               
Association, said they cosponsored  this bill with the Psychology                                                               
Licensing  Board and  the  purpose  was to  clarify  some of  the                                                               
wording in  the original psychology  license in 1963  which tried                                                               
to identify  who could call themselves  psychologists and provide                                                               
psychological services.  To have a  license at the  time, because                                                               
it  was  the  only  mental  health  license  on  the  books,  the                                                               
definition  had to  be fairly  broad to  allow people  working in                                                               
government agencies  and other mental health  organizations to be                                                               
licensed.  Time has passed and  four other types of licenses have                                                               
been put on  the books that clarify other  mental health services                                                               
that do  not need to  be provided by doctor  level psychologists.                                                               
It is  time to  clean up  the legislation  because as  it stands,                                                               
people  who are  not  trained psychologists  can legally  specify                                                               
themselves as such. They are  trying to close this loophole. They                                                               
do not  intend to  exclude anybody  from providing  mental health                                                               
services,  only  that  they could  not  advertise  themselves  as                                                               
licensed psychologists.                                                                                                         
8:40:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  said he doesn't  like the idea that  someone who                                                               
hasn't passed the  exam could call themselves  a psychologist. He                                                               
asked  Dr.  Baker to  provide  some  statistics  on who  are  the                                                               
individuals who are failing this exam.                                                                                          
DR. BAKER answered  that the pass rate on the  first try is about                                                               
65 to  70 percent,  so it  is fairly rigorous.  He took  the test                                                               
twice before  he passed. He does  not have specifics on  how many                                                               
people  in the  state have  or have  not passed  the exam.  It is                                                               
designed  to ensure  that  people who  are  not qualified  cannot                                                               
treat  or evaluate  our citizens.  He  agreed that  this is  very                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS brought  the committee's  attention  to page  2,                                                               
section 2. He asked if people  who have been practicing will have                                                               
to take the exam or will they receive grandfather rights.                                                                       
DR. BAKER  said those  in government  service have  rather strict                                                               
regulations  and  the   requirement  is  they  have   to  have  a                                                               
psychology license. That  may not always have been  the case, but                                                               
it certainly  is now. Their  main concern, he explained,  is that                                                               
they have had several instances  in which persons applied to work                                                               
as psychologists in rural settings  specifically in the state and                                                               
it turns out they were not licensed.                                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGGINS clarified  that  what  he wants  to  know is  if                                                               
someone has been working for several  years in the field, do they                                                               
have to take this test.                                                                                                         
DR.  BAKER  answered that  it  would  depend  upon what  type  of                                                               
services they  are offering. If  they are offering  services that                                                               
are restricted  to psychologists, such as  specific psychological                                                               
tests, then they must take the exam.                                                                                            
SENATOR  STEVENS asked  if this  is a  standardized test  that is                                                               
used by other states.                                                                                                           
DR. BAKER replied that it is a national standardized exam.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  returned to Senator Huggins'  question and                                                               
said that the answer is "yes."                                                                                                  
8:46:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  asked what the  thinking is behind the  six months                                                               
between the retaking of the exam.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON replied that he did not know.                                                                             
DR. BAKER answered that this is  from the original wording of the                                                               
license statute from 1963 and  was implemented to give people six                                                               
months   to   study   before  re-taking   it.   Other   licensing                                                               
requirements do not stipulate a  specific time interval. It is up                                                               
to the board.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  OLSON said  when  he  was taking  the  medical exam,  he                                                               
wondered  what  relevance it  had  to  do  with his  practice  of                                                               
medicine. He wondered how much relevance this exam has.                                                                         
SENATOR STEVENS asked if there was  a limit for how many times an                                                               
individual can retake the exam.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON replied that they can keep trying.                                                                        
DR. BAKER  responded that after  an individual tries to  take the                                                               
exam two  or three  times, the board  will usually  encourage the                                                               
individual to get further training  before petitioning to take it                                                               
again. He  pointed out  that, in addition  to the  national exam,                                                               
applicants generally  have to pass  a state exam on  statutes and                                                               
regulations that pertain to the state.                                                                                          
SENATOR STEVENS asked for confirmation  that there is a governing                                                               
body overseeing these exam applicants.                                                                                          
DR.  BAKER  confirmed  that  the  national  testing  organization                                                               
collects and scores all the  examinations and then reports to the                                                               
Psychological State  Board. It is then  the scope of work  of the                                                               
licensing board  to discuss  the matter  with applicants  who did                                                               
not pass.  The exam covers  about eight different areas  of human                                                               
development,  research, and  practice  and  treatment of  varying                                                               
problems in human development.                                                                                                  
SENATOR OLSON asked how often  they see malpractice cases against                                                               
the licensee.                                                                                                                   
DR. BAKER said  that would be more appropriately  directed to the                                                               
Psychology Licensing Board,  but he thinks they have  seen two or                                                               
three cases  since 1963. The  process is that complaints  come to                                                               
the licensing  examiner and,  if the complaint  has merit,  it is                                                               
referred to  the member of that  licensing board and then  to the                                                               
Attorney General's office if necessary.                                                                                         
8:54:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER moved to adopt  the proposed CSHB 110(HSS) Version                                                               
R,  as   the  committee's  working   document.  There   being  no                                                               
objection, the motion carried.                                                                                                  
8:55:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER  moved to  report the  CS for  HB 110,  version R,                                                               
from  committee  with  attached fiscal  note(s)  with  individual                                                               
recommendations. There  being no  objection, CSHB  110(HSS) moved                                                               
from the Senate Health and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                  

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