LSBEP Planning Changes in Law

In the last week of February members of the La. Psychological Association reviewed a memo from the Board of Examiners of Psychologists on “Possible Housekeeping Legislation.” The three-page memo, obtained from an undisclosed source, included substantial changes to areas of the psychology law, said the source.

One of the significant areas listed in the memo is the goal to define “Registered Assistant to Psychologist.” The board notes that the psychologist and anyone under the supervision of that psychologist must conduct their activities in ethical and professional ways that meet standards required by the board. The authors of the memo write, “Clear authority to require registration of assistance will allow the board to enforce regulations that it promulgates, ensure the individuals who are being employed or qualified do not have a history of violent behavior, or other impairment that would prohibit them from interacting with vulnerable populations, with whom they are often alone.”

The board also notes that the changes they seek would allow them the authority to collect fees for registering assistants.

The memo also included a number of expansions to the authority of the board including the right to delegate to an employee or Executive Director subpoena authority.

The authors note that even though the board has authority to issue a summary suspension (of a license) there is no clear language in the law that gives the board the right to delegate that authority to a specific individual or executive committee.

This authority is outlined in Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act 49:956, they write, however there is no clear authority given to the board to delegate the authority to a specific individual or committee.

“Present law is also silent on the authority of the board to delegate duties to an Executive Director of the agency in order to effectuate the provisions of the Chapter.”

The board would also like to change the law to give itself clear authority to provide educational activities and to recuperate the cost of providing such education.

According to the memo the board would like to modify the definition of the practice of psychology. “This definition has been challenged in an attempt to exclude from licensure those individuals who practice in a forensic setting,” the board writes. The definition, authors say, should also be modified to include individuals engaged in education and training in a clinical setting such as university hospitals and clinics.

The LSBEP wants to change the definition of board member such that the qualification no longer includes a minimum of five years practice under Louisiana law. “This is unnecessarily restrictive and narrows the pool of qualified board members,” they write. “A new licensee may have been in practice for more than five years in another jurisdiction.”

The board is also seeking changes in the licensing requirements because they are outdated, they explain. They suggest changes are needed to match the current national standards for training and credentialing for licensure.

Adding the words “or otherwise restrict“ into the definition of the boards power to “suspend, deny or revoke” someone’s license, and so this would allow them to modify licenses in a less restrictive way where appropriate and allow some individuals to continue to practice in a limited capacity in contrast to completely revoking their license, the authors explain.

The board members also recommend changes to establish clear authority for them to collect applicable administration and maintenance fees, as related to application, registration and renewals.

The board is also seeking to change the definition of “Executive Committee” because the present law is not clear regarding the authority of the board to delegate certain functions.

Authors write they want to make additions or changes in matters of telepsychology including the authority to collect fees necessary to review or deny request to provide training via electronically means.

Also the LSBEP is seeking to further define and determine the differences between an “applicant” for licensure and a “candidate” for licensure because the board has been challenged with determining the level of due process rights of an individual once they are granted candidacy status.

The memo was obtained from an undisclosed source in Louisiana Psychological Association who said that the association was not in favor of major changes without more assessment of the suggestions by the members at the state association and the community at large.

The memo does not appear to be posted on the board’s website. However, according to the December minutes (posted January 10) legislative efforts were discussed briefly. “Dr. Gormanous expressed his opinion that the LSBEP should prepare to educate people, including new legislators if the Board is going to seriously consider statutory changes.” And, “The committee agreed that they would wait for ASPPB to publish recommendations for the ‘Elevator Speech’ and revisit that topic at that time.”

The minutes contained no reference to comments from the members about separation of powers.

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