Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/17/1998 01:40 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE April 17, 1998 1:40 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman Senator Mike Miller Senator Sean Parnell Senator Johnny Ellis MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Drue Pearce, Vice-Chairman COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 331 "An Act regulating licensed professional counselors; regulating use of the titles 'licensed professional counselor' and 'licensed counselor'; amending Rule 504(a)(3), Alaska Rules of Evidence; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED SB 331 OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 305 "An Act relating to rehabilitation of injured workers." - MOVED SB 305 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 331 - See HESS minutes dated 3/09/98 and 3/20/98. SB 305 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 3/10/98 and Judiciary minutes dated 4/15/98. WITNESS REGISTER Ms. Sandy Burd Staff to Senator Jim Duncan State Capitol Juneau, Ak 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 305 Mr. Paul Grossi Director, Division of Workers' Compensation Department of Labor PO Box 25512 Juneau, Ak 99802-5512 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 305 Ms. Beth Hagevig Staff to Senator Gary Wilken State Capitol Juneau, Ak 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 331 Ms. Anne Henry 3347 Park Place Juneau, Ak 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 331 Mr. Gary Clement PO Box 21811 Juneau, Ak 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 331 Ms. Sheila Clarson Alaska Psycological Associates PO BOX 671634 Chugiak, Ak 99567 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 331 Ms. Cathryn Simon American Counseling Associates 12320 Tracy Rd. Apt A Anchorage, Ak 99516 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 331 Mr. Allen Morroti PO BOX 756480 Fairbanks, Ak 99775 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 331 Ms. Mary Matthews 4108 Billy's Lane Fairbanks, Ak 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Candidate for Confirmation Mr. Lloyd Cary PO BOX 957 Soldotna, Ak 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 331 Dr. Carol Alley Ketchikan, Ak 99901 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-36, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 1:40 and called SB 305 as the first order of business. SB 305 - IMPLEMENTATION OF WORK COMP EDITION MS. SANDY BURD, staff to Senator Jim Duncan, presented SB 305 as a bill that will allow for the update of the worker's compensation edition. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said the bill also includes some clean up language. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said MR. PAUL GROSSI was also present to speak on the bill. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR briefly asked MR. GROSSI if he liked the bill, MR. GROSSI replied he did, and CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he would entertain a motion. SENATOR PARNELL moved SB 305 out of committee with individual recommendations. Without objection, it was so ordered. SB 331 - PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR LICENSING MS. BETH HAGEVIG, staff to SENATOR GARY WILKEN, presented SB 331, a bill to license professional counselors. MS. HAGEVIG reported the bill broadens the career options of counselors, increases counselors' ability to keep client information confidential and allows counselors to be covered under many employee assistance programs (EAPs). MS. HAGEVIG said the bill is good for Alaska mental health consumers since it establishes minimum educational and experiential requirements and will partially eliminate the "buyer beware" situation that now exists. She said the bill also institutes grievance procedures and provides legal recourse for clients who feel they have been wronged. MS. HAGEVIG said the bill has the support of numerous professional organizations. MS. ANNE HENRY, a professional counselor, said Alaska is one of only six states that do not currently license professional counselors. In one of those states, legislation is pending to do so, and similar legislation is being debated at the federal level. MS. HENRY said the bill is a title restriction and not a license restriction bill; if people do not want to get the license they are not forced to, they are simply disallowed from calling themselves licensed professional counselors. MS. HENRY said the bill has similar educational requirements as those that exist in other states and allows professional counselors to become an integral part of available mental health services. She urged the committee's support for the bill. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted that SENATOR WILKEN, Pamela Watts and Robert Lane have corresponded regarding this issue and are concerned there are insufficient course work requirements to help prepare professional counselors to treat serious mental disorders of to administer complex psychological testing measures. MR. GARY CLEMENT, a mental health clinician for the Juneau Mental Health clinic, said he works in an emergency room and administers psychotherapy every day. MR. CLEMENT said he does not do testing other than that for which he has been trained in the field of substance abuse. MR. CLEMENT said he does not believe testing is the issue here, and all mental health providers are trained to deal with serious mental illnesses. MS. HENRY added that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (DSM IV) is used by virtually every mental health care provider and sets the standards for any type of mental health disorder. The manual standardizes the terminology and criteria used in diagnosis. MS. HENRY said this bill requires either a MA or a Ph.D. from an accredited program as well as practical experience and 2,000 hours of supervised work. MS. HAGEVIG noted that there is a limitation of practice in the bill, allowing a person to provide only those services which he or she has been appropriately trained to perform. Number 231 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR mentioned there had also been concern expressed about the lack of specific educational course work requirements. MS. HAGEVIG said the bill is fairly consistent with other statutes in place for social workers and associate psychologists. She said the degree requirement is in the bill, but the course work for that degree is not specified. MS. HENRY indicated that the organizations that accredit these programs are national organizations that are very particular in the programs they accredit. SENATOR PARNELL asked about the confidentiality provision and what it is meant to protect. Number 261 MS. HENRY replied that rule 504 is fairly standard and mandates the confidentiality of information provided to a counselor unless there is a threat of harm to the client themselves or to others. MS. HAGEVIG said much of the language in this bill was borrowed from the legislation enabling the licensure of marriage and family therapists. SENATOR PARNELL noted that those counselors who are not licenced must divulge information if they are subpoenaed. MS. HENRY replied this was correct and specified that the privilege belongs to the client and can be waived if they so desire. Number 306 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said the file indicates there is concern from the Alaska Psychological Association (APA) about the use of assessment techniques. AMA would like to see the use of assessment techniques limited to those "consistent with each counselor's formal education and training, licensed professional counselors may administer and utilize appropriate assessment instruments which measure and/or diagnose problems and/or dysfunctions within the course of human growth and development . . . appraisal techniques shall not include the use of projective techniques . . . nor the use of psychological or clinical tests designed to identify or classify abnormal or pathological human behavior, nor the use of individually administered intelligence tests." MS. HENRY said counselors do not do these types of tests and she believes the prohibition on projective testing already exists in the bill. MS. HENRY again referred to the limitation of practice provision. MR. CLEMENT explained that deciphering the subtleties of tests like the Rorschach (ink blot) test was more of an art than a science, and if he wanted to use a Rorschach he had evaluated, he would get his psychologist to "sign off on it." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted the issue seemed to be a turf battle of some sort. MS. HENRY said it was not the intent of the bill to allow anyone to do anything they are not trained to do and the bill allows a person to complain if they believe this is happening. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said it seems that existing counselors don't have to comply with the provisions in the bill. MS. HAGEVIG said the bill does contain a grandfathering provision for people currently practicing who have either a MA or a Ph.D. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if the degree has to be in counseling and MS. HENRY said counseling or a related field. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced his intent to take up the confirmation hearing at this time. VIOLENT CRIME BOARD DR. CAROL ALLEY, candidate for confirmation to the violent crime board, testified that she had been on the board for several years and during that time was busy with the important work of the board. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked MS. ALLEY if she had any comments for the committee. MS. ALLEY replied that the board has undergone many changes recently and has effectively adapted to them and done a good job overall. SENATOR PARNELL thanked MS. ALLEY for her service and asked if she could detail the purpose of the board. MS. ALLEY replied that the board helps to compensate victims injured in violent crimes and pays for necessary expenses including medical and relocation expenses and counseling and funeral costs. Number 450 SENATOR PARNELL confirmed that the board was funded primarily through felons' Permanent Fund Dividend checks, and asked what criteria were used to divide such a limited source of money. DR. ALLEY replied they make that determination case by case and attempt to compensate victims who are "truly innocent" first. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked DR. ALLEY again for her service and moved on to the Alaska Judicial Council. ALASKA JUDICIAL COUNCIL MS. MARY MATTHEWS said she was pleased to be considered for confirmation as a public member of the judicial council. Number 494 SENATOR PARNELL asked the type of thing the board does to screen people. MS. MATTHEWS explained there is an extensive interview process, including the review of letters of reference as well as a bar poll and a series of interviews. She expressed confidence in the process. SENATOR PARNELL asked what criteria she used to recommend candidates and MS. MATTHEWS replied she has no law background but has a good background and has been involved in education, community psychology and management and she follows the procedures outlined for judge selection. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if the bar poll process has been peer reviewed or changed in the last several years. MS. MATTHEWS was not sure but said she would find out at the board's next meeting. She said they are always talking about ways to improve the process and she is aware of concerns regarding the bar poll. She restated the fact that the judicial council is in a constant process of evaluation and revision of the selection process and they are open to change and improvement. Number 555 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR indicated he has been through the process and had a bad experience with it. He believes the bar poll should be thrown out unless the recommendations that are submitted are no longer anonymous. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said MS. MATTHEW's background indicates she might have some strong feelings on certain subjects. He asked if she would recommend one candidate over another due to her association with certain organizations or feelings on certain topics. MS. MATTHEWS replied she would not pretend to be totally unbiased, but would hope she could simply look for the best possible candidate for each judgeship. She indicated she would look for a person with a variety of experience, the respect of his or her peers and concern with fairness in applying the law. TAPE 98-36, Side B Number 580 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked MS. MATTHEWS for her candid answer, but commented that private practice attorneys can't seem to get through the council lately. MS. MATTHEWS thanked CHAIRMAN TAYLOR also for his perspective and said she had been taking notes. She commented that the judicial council is concerned that politics stay out of the board's process. Number 535 SENATOR PARNELL moved that the committee issue the standard letter and forward the names of DR. ALLEY and MS. MATTHEWS to the full body for a confirmation vote. Without objection, it was so ordered. SB 331 - PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR LICENSING Resuming the discussion of SB 331, CHAIRMAN TAYLOR again noted that there seemed to be a turf battle over the bill between psychologists and counselors. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thought he heard someone say that if these counselors had the appropriate post graduate work and training they could be psychologists themselves. MR. CLEMENT stated the name of the program is precisely what prevents this. He said they do in fact have the same training, just under another name. MS. HENRY agreed, saying the name on your degree must match the name on your license. MR. CLEMENT specified that a degree in "community psychology" might not be treated the same as a degree in "psychology." Number 444 SENATOR WILKEN thanked the committee for hearing the bill, saying it originated from a constituent who had been wronged by someone who claimed to be a counselor. He said he approached this issue from a consumer protection standpoint but he's happy if it happens to benefit counselors as well. MS. SHEILA CLARSON Ph.D., representing the Alaska Psychological Association (APA), testified via teleconference from Anchorage and said the language of the bill is too broad, though she does support counselor licensing. MS. CLARSON said the training of counselors differs from that of a psychologist or a psychological associate and the bill does not accurately reflect that. MS. CLARSON said course work is generally specified for different types of licences by regulation. She said MR. CLEMENT's comments about testing illustrated APA's concern about testing. She said appropriate use of testing and accurate diagnoses are important issues that keep her from supporting the bill at this time. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if there had been an amendment contemplated to deal with the testing issue. SENATOR WILKEN said he also thinks it is a turf battle and the sides have compromised all they can. He thinks the bill has reached a workable point at which the public interest is served. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked MS. CLARSON if she was aware of the changes that had been made to the bill and she replied she was. MS. CLARSON maintained her concern about the use of testing by counselors due to the fact that the results of such a test can make a big impact on a person's life. She concluded that she recognizes there is room for both psychologists and counselors, she just wants the bill to reflect the difference between the two. Number 400 MS. ANNE HENRY said the scope of counselors practice is defined in the bill and was modeled after the statute which licences marriage and family therapists. She said the bill has been changed to accommodate the concerns of psychologists. MS. HAGEVIG made the point that psychologists have regulations defining who can do what and this same thing will happen for counselors under this bill. She indicated if there is a board of counselors set up, they will set the regulations to flesh out what is allowed in statute. She said the original licensure state for psychologists was no more specific than this bill. Number 387 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented that a board of counselors defining what counselors can do would understandably want to define those limits broadly. MS. CATHERINE SIMON, a member of the American Counseling Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage to her support of the bill. Number 360 MR. ALLEN MOROTTI commented that the bill will allow a board of counselors to be set up. Currently, there is no board and no type of oversight at all over people who call themselves "counselors." MR. LLOYD CARY supported the bill due to a case he was aware of in which a pastor falsely claimed to be a psychologist and was practicing counseling. He supported licensure for the protection of the public. SENATOR PARNELL moved SB 331 with individual recommendation. Without objection, the bill moved from committee and they were adjourned.