Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/30/1996 08:00 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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              
 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
 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                  
 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               
 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               
 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              
 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.                                  

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