Looking at the Effects of Legislation What’s in a name? That which we call legislation can produce some interesting comparisons. In the 1800s, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said, “There are two things you don’t want to see being made—sausage and legislation.” A retired Wisconsin state staffer, Jack Stark, likens the legislature to summer camp—where lawmakers ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   July 01, 2004
Looking at the Effects of Legislation
Author Notes
  • Charlie Diggs, is director of ASHA’s State & Consumer Advocacy unit. Contact him at cdiggs@asha.org
    Charlie Diggs, is director of ASHA’s State & Consumer Advocacy unit. Contact him at cdiggs@asha.org×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   July 01, 2004
Looking at the Effects of Legislation
The ASHA Leader, July 2004, Vol. 9, 1-11. doi:10.1044/leader.PA1.09132004.1
The ASHA Leader, July 2004, Vol. 9, 1-11. doi:10.1044/leader.PA1.09132004.1
What’s in a name? That which we call legislation can produce some interesting comparisons.
In the 1800s, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said, “There are two things you don’t want to see being made—sausage and legislation.”
A retired Wisconsin state staffer, Jack Stark, likens the legislature to summer camp—where lawmakers (or campers) leave home for a specified period of time, hang out with people like themselves, play tricks on each other, receive letters from home, learn skills, do things they can brag about, sometimes stay up late, and return home better for the experience.
According to Kerry Niemcek, a former legislative aide in Illinois and Wisconsin, lawmaking is like ice fishing. Anyone can do it, but not everyone wants to put up with the hassles. A lot of time is spent sitting around while nothing happens. Then, when the action starts, the “catch” may get away, or be smaller than anticipated. Whatever your concept, state legislation influences how audiology and speech-language pathology are practiced in a state. Fifteen states saw the following changes enacted in laws or regulations during 2004.
Changes in Attitude
Many changes describe what credentials are needed to provide services. Practice in the Illinois schools is now possible without a teaching certificate. For the first time, Michigan audiologists will need a license. Applicants for Oklahoma licensure in audiology will need a doctoral degree after Dec. 31, 2006. Licensed Maine audiologists may dispense hearing aids without taking the hearing aid dealers and fitters examination and without a training period under a licensed hearing aid dispenser.
In recognition that doctoral audiology programs may provide a fourth year of full-time supervised clinical practice prior to granting a degree, the licensing board in Wisconsin now has the authority to accept education or training that it determines is equivalent to a more traditional postgraduate clinical fellowship. And, speech-language pathology assistants who meet certain standards, perform limited duties, and are properly supervised may work in Alaska and Minnesota.
Other licensure law changes in Arizona, Maryland, and Wisconsin were administrative. They do not have an immediate impact on practice, but strengthen the ability of the boards to make future changes by, respectively, creating a special licensing fund, restricting the voting power of physicians, and adding an additional audiologist and an additional SLP to the board.
Changes in Latitude
Other changes relate to scope of practice. Indiana’s defeat of a state psychology board proposal to limit the administration of more than 200 tests allows SLPs to continue to use test instruments that are often part of a speech and language assessment.
In New Jersey, the regulatory process has started to allow speech-language pathologists with specified training to conduct a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing.
Other areas of practice also showed gains. Kansas will develop specific rules and regulations for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI), including equipment standards, screening protocols, personnel standards, and reporting requirements. Washington created an EHDI Advisory Council to address its low rate of infant hearing screening compared to other states. Before legislators adjourn late in the year, California may become the eighth state to mandate some form of hearing aid benefit for children.
Finally, working conditions in the schools improved in Oklahoma and Virginia. School-based speech-language pathologists and audiologists in Oklahoma who hold ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) are entitled to a $5,000 salary supplement when the legislature appropriates funds, hopefully next year. Virginia speech-language pathologists in the schools can look forward to a reduction in maximum caseload from 68 to 60.
The Oklahoma and Virginia victories are the direct result of a collaborative, multiyear effort of the state speech-language-hearing association and ASHA’s State Education Action Team under ASHA’s Schools Focused Initiative.
The Other States
But, there are 35 other states. What’s happening with them?
A half dozen states do not have 2004 regular sessions because their legislatures meet only every other year. Some state speech-language-hearing associations decided not to push legislation this year for a variety of reasons: their issues required more research, greater support from lawmakers was needed, the state budget would not support desired laws, or for some other reason. Other state associations introduced legislation that did not move as rapidly as anticipated, usually for some of these same reasons or due to strong opposition from other stakeholders in the bill. Still other state associations are working intensely to reach consensus among all interested parties before moving forward with proposed legislation.
Approximately 10 legislatures are still in session, and have time to move a bill out of committee, have it passed by a legislative chamber, have it considered, and even passed, by the other chamber before legislative adjournment.
ASHA State Policy
ASHA’s State Policy unit works closely with state speech-language-hearing associations to pass state legislation. ASHA-recognized state associations were recently notified of a new tool available to them on ASHA’s Web site. ASHA will use its Take Action Center to post an alert on a state’s legislative or regulatory issue that is consistent with ASHA policy. State association members who are also members of ASHA can then identify and contact their state officials directly from the ASHA site. This feature is provided as a benefit of ASHA membership and state association recognition.
Even smaller states may have thousands of bills under consideration at any one time. State legislatures do not meet long enough to consider every bill that is introduced. Legislators need to know that their constituents want action on a particular bill, and this new tool will assist state associations to deliver such a message to their state’s lawmakers.
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July 2004
Volume 9, Issue 13