Legislature Could Dump 66% of Bills

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Legislators are slowly finding their way back to the 2020 legislative session after they suspended activities the second week in March due to the coronavirus cases in the region.

Required to adjourn on June 1, lawmakers will have less than 30 days to create a budget for the state, approve 300 or so appointees, and restructure state agencies that are scheduled for sunset. Only about a third of the bills previously filed will be addressed, reports Mark Ballard of the Advocate.

Only about a third of the bills previously filed will be addressed, reports Mark Ballard of the Advocate.

Ballard noted, “Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzalez, asked members to prioritize the legislation each had filed for what was supposed to be an 85-day session beginning March 9. About a third of the legislation will be heard with emphasis on measures dealing with COVID-19 responses, the economy and the budget. About a third of the proposed legislation will get a hearing, Cortez and Schexnayder said.”

The lawmakers have met very little during the interim and mostly to start the process of new bills that would be focused on combating the coronavirus and other problems related to the states economy and sinking oil prices.

Senate Bill 458, the ambitious set of changes to the psychology practice law initiated by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) is not currently on the schedule. The measure is on hold after officers from the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) raised objections. A task force was established to develop a consensus regarding the measure and is still deliberating.

If passed SB 458 would make sweeping changes to the psychology law including a new set of regulations and fees for assistants, expanding the charter of the board, removing certain qualifications for serving, authorizing the board to conduct continuing education, exempting the board from Open Meetings Law for investigatory meetings, and formally establishing the position and duties of the Executive Director.

Some of the bills that have made it to the calendar include:

HB 243, by Rep. Lyons, exempts persons with disabilities from fees associated with obtaining medical records.

HB 473, by Rep. Duplessis, eliminates the 12-month mandatory minimum supervision period for defendants who elect to undergo treatment while participating in a drug division probation program.

HB 498, by Rep. Emerson, requires licensing boards to waive fees to applicants who meet certain criteria and to offer payment plans. Those applicants will qualify if they are receiving public assistance and earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

HB 449, by Rep. Echols, provides relative to behavioral health services delivered via telehealth and regulation of such services by the La. Department of Health. Present law, the Louisiana Telehealth Access Act (R.S. 40:1223.1 et seq.), defines “telehealth”, in pertinent part, as a mode of delivering healthcare services that utilizes information and communication technologies to enable the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of patients at a distance from healthcare providers. Proposed law amends this definition to provide that healthcare services delivered via telehealth include behavioral health services. Present law, the Behavioral Health Services Provider Licensing Law (R.S. 40:2151 et seq.), requires the La. Department of Health to promulgate rules and regulations for behavioral health services providers. Proposed law provides that such rules and regulations address the delivery of behavioral health services through telehealth.

Other measures that may or may not be heard include:

HB 45, HB 48, both by Rep. Miller, provides a deadline for Title 37 licensing boards reports to be submitted and shifts the receipt of reports and complaints to the legislative auditor instead of the House and Senate governmental affairs committees. HB 48 removes provisions requiring Title 37 licensing boards and commissions to give notice that complaints about actions or procedures of the boards may be submitted to the board or commission or to the House and Senate governmental affairs committees.

HB 138, by Rep. Wright, requires the use of video cameras in classrooms where special education services are provided to certain students with exceptionalities.

HB 195, by Rep. D. Miller, removes the requirement to submit proof of active hospital privileges for a new healthcare provider in a group practice who bills an insurer using the group practice’s identification number prior to credentialing.

HB 158 by Rep. Marino, authorizes the recommendation of medical marijuana to patients by physicians for treating several neurodegenerative diseases and conditions.

HB 338, by Rep. Duplessis, requires the reporting of certain physical and mental health information of an offender appearing before the committee on parole for a parole hearing. Proposed law retains present law and adds information regarding the physical, mental, or psychiatric condition of the offender, when available, to the list of information included in the report secured by the department.

HB 485, by Rep. D. Miller, provides admitting privileges to psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners for preparing and executing orders for the admission of patients to licensed psychiatric treatment facilities. Proposed law retains present law and adds psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners may admit persons with mental illness or suffering from a substance-related or addictive disorder pursuant to present law.

HB 505, by Rep. Bishop. Proposed law establishes the licensed profession of art therapist in La. Provides for licensure of art therapists by the La. State Board of Medical Examiners.

HB 663, by Rep. Hughes revises school discipline laws. Present law provides relative to student discipline. Proposed law provides a comprehensive revision of present law, applicable to all public schools, including charter schools.

SB 128, by Sen. Barrow, requires certain assessments of a student prior to suspension from school. Proposed law requires the principal, prior to suspending a student, to ensure that the student is assessed using an instrument, such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Assessment developed by the Centers for Disease Control, that is designed to determine if the student has experienced trauma, and whether the student’s behavior may be better addressed in a manner other than through suspension.

SB 170, by Sen. F. Mills, provides relative to health care emergency visit alternative treatment reimbursement. Proposed law establishes an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate for hospitals that triage nonemergency Medicaid recipients presenting at the hospital emergency department to a hospital primary care clinic when such transition is appropriate.

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