Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124
02/09/2018 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 318-EXTEND: BOARD OF SOCIAL WORK EXAMINERS 3:22:34 PM CHAIR KITO announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 318, "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Social Work Examiners; and providing for an effective date." 3:22:55 PM TED MADSEN, Staff, Representative Ivy Spohnholz, presented HB 318 on behalf of Representative Spohnholz, prime sponsor. He paraphrased the sponsor statement, which reads as follows [original punctuation provided]: House Bill 318 extends the Board of Social Work Examiners (board) to June 30, 2026 in accordance with the recommendation with the Division of Legislative Audit. The board is composed of five members including two licensed clinical social workers, one licensed master social worker, one licensed baccalaureate social worker, and one public member who has never been licensed by the board. Further, Alaska statutes mandate that one of the licensed board members may not be an employee of a federal, state, or local government, or a nonprofit organization. The board regulates over 775 licensed social workers as of March 2017. The duties of the board include issuing licenses to qualified applicants, establishing continuing education requirements and a code of professional ethics and standards, creating standards for supervisors and supervision, and adopting regulations as necessary. The Division of Legislative Audit reviewed the operations of the board and concluded that the board is serving the public's interest by effectively licensing and regulating the profession. The board is currently scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2018 and will have one year to conclude its operations unless the legislature extends the termination date. House Bill 318 mirrors the recommendations of the Division of Legislative Audit, and extends the termination date until June 30, 2026. 3:24:20 PM KRIS CURTIS, Legislative Auditor, Legislative Budget and Audit, Legislative Agencies and Offices, presented the October 2017 audit findings. She began by paraphrasing from report conclusions in "A Sunset Review of the Department Commerce, Community and Economic Development Board of Social Work Examiners (board)" [included in committee packet], which reads as follows [original punctuation provided]: The audit concluded that the board operated in the public's interest by effectively licensing and regulating social workers. Board meetings were conducted in compliance with law, investigations were generally processed timely, and the board issued or changed regulations to improve the profession. In accordance with AS 08.03.010(c)(21), the board is scheduled to terminate on June 30, 2018. We recommend that the legislature extend the board's termination to June 30, 2026. MS. CURTIS informed there were 783 licenses for a 41 percent increase since the 2009 sunset audit. She said the board had a $95 thousand surplus at the end of fiscal year 2017 (FY 17). MS. CURTIS outlined the two recommendations. Recommendation 1 is that DCBPL's director should improve procedures to ensure board-required documentation is obtained prior to licensure. She said 1 in 25 tested licenses contained an error. Recommendation 2 is that the Office of the Governor's Boards and Commissions staff should work with the board to identify potential applicants for the board's vacant clinical social worker position. The position had been open for some time, and statutes require that one of the five board members must be a social worker who is not employed by a federal, state, or local government or a federally tax-exempt non-profit organization. She added that Boards and Commissions staff had communicated that the stringent requirements make it difficult to find qualified applicants. MS. CURTIS presented the audit responses. She stated the Office of the Governor agrees with the audit recommendations and encouraged the board to find a legislative fix to the stringent position requirements; the department agrees with both recommendations, but believes additional supervisory resources are required to meet standards for the quality checks outlined in Recommendation 1; and the board agrees with both recommendations. 3:27:40 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked how many of the 783 licensees work for the state or federal government. MS. CURTIS stated there had been lengthy discussion amongst the auditors about how many of the licensees were state employees, and it had been determined that not many licensees work for the Office of Children's Services (OCS). The auditors had found that most licensees worked for schools, hospitals, and non- profit organizations. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked whether the distribution of the board reflects the licensees' employment. MS. CURTIS answered the audit did not go into that level of detail. 3:30:00 PM DANIELLE LAFON, Chair, Board of Social Work Examiners, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing (DCBPL), Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED), testified in support of HB 318. She said she believes the board serves its purpose in ensuring the social workers in the state are receiving necessary education, passing exams, and maintaining licensure through continuing education. She stated she agrees with the audit findings and added Recommendation 1 will be discussed at the next board meeting in March . She informed that the clinical social worker position in Recommendation 2 has since been filled. 3:31:14 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked whether the distribution of the board membership reflects the type of work the licensees carry out. MS. LAFON answered it was unknown, adding that social workers are largely found in non-profit organizations. She said she did not believe any of the board members were working for the state. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH stated he thought it was peculiar that one of the members could not work for the state. 3:33:07 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked what percentage of the membership is in private practice. MS. LAFON answered it was not clear if he was referring to board members or licensees. She added that one of the board members works for a private entity. REPRESENTATIVE WOOL clarified he was asking about licensees, not the board members. MS. LAFON answered the board does not track where licensees work. 3:34:27 PM LAURA MORTEN, Licensed Social Worker, testified in support of HB 318. 3:35:11 PM CHAIR KITO asked for any information on the ability of state employees to participate in licensing boards. JANEY McCULLOUGH, Director, Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing (DCBPL), Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED), answered that all boards have different requirements set out by statute. She stated the division does not track where its licensees are employed. CHAIR KITO asked whether Ms. McCullough was aware of any state employees who are licensed professionals and are serving on boards. MS. McCULLOUGH answered she knew of state employees who serve on boards that are different from the profession for which they are licensed. 3:37:14 PM CHAIR KITO opened public testimony on HB 318. 3:37:22 PM ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, National Association of Social Workers, testified that the National Association of Social Workers supports HB 318. HB 318 was held over.