House Bill 477, the legislative effort put forth by the Louisiana State Board of examiners of
psychologists (LSBEP), advanced out of the House Health and Welfare Committee with a favorable vote on May 4, but with the author agreeing to make changes later as matters could continue to unfold.
Testimony was provided by LSBEP members, members of the Executive Council of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA), and a community member representing those in opposition to the measure.
Board Executive Director, Ms. Jaime Monic, testified to the various financial difficulties the board was experiencing and offered comparisons to other agencies.
Current board chair Dr. Amy Henke testified to the beneficial reasons for registration of assistants and commented about best practices across other states as well as other common practices contained in the measure.
LPA President Dr. Erin Reuther and Dr. Matt Holcomb also testified in favor of the
legislation. Dr. Reuther said that she and others have worked for months on collaborative solutions with the board members.
Dr. Alan Taylor testified in opposition to the measure, commenting that there was no disagreement about the financial need, only about the best solutions. He said more communication was needed in the community.
Representative Stagni, the author of the bill, said, “Mr. Chairman you’ve heard the urgency and the need, the board is vital to the profession.
They’ve come to us and asked us for help. I would ask that you move this along. I think two days from now you’ll have an official vote by the association.
“If there is a change as to where the finances are coming from, I will do that and I commit to do that.
“But I think this is vital. You’ve heard testimony that for 18 months that there have been members of the association and members of the board working collaboratively that would be beneficial to the profession and to the citizens so I would ask that you move this favorably and I’ll work on it as need be going to the floor.”
Sources indicate that members of the Louisiana Psychological Association petitioned their Executive Council so as to call a special meeting of the membership about the legislation.
HB 477 began as HB 458. In February 2020, a memo circulated from the Board of Examiners of Psychologists on “Possible Housekeeping Legislation.” The memo, obtained from an undisclosed source, included substantialchanges to areas of the psychology law, said the source.
A 23–page document, Senate Bill 458, outlining an ambitious set of changes to the psychology practice law was introduced on March 31, 2020.
SB 458 set out sweeping changes to the psychology law including a new set of regulations for assistants, additions to the charter of the board, changing 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.
However, the 2020 legislative agenda was swallowed up by the pandemic.
In the meantime, due to opposition to the original SB 458, Dr. Greg Gormanous, Chair of Legislative Affairs for LSBEP, put forth a motion in April 2020 to establish an Ad Hoc Legislative Collaborative Committee. This would include community members and have the objective seek to reach consensus about the board’s legislative goals.
The AdHoc Legislative Collaborative Committee met dozens of times, worked on numerous changes, and agreed on much of what was in the legislation, but not all, according to
The Board voted unanimously on January 28, to begin the search for a legislator to sponsor their changes to the psychology law for the 2021 legislative session.
In February LPA voiced opposition to moving the legislation ahead in 2021.
At their regular monthly meeting, March 26, the LSBEP passed a motion to proceed to file a reduced version of their legislation. Members of the LPA Council supported this step but opposition was still present elsewhere.