April 2023 Legislative Update

  • Thursday, April 20, 2023 12:56 PM
    Message # 13174936
    Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    State Legislation

    In the February 2023 update, we provided an overview of SB 700, which would have accomplished several important legislative priorities affecting the counseling profession in Florida.  Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a bill sponsor in the House, effectively killing the bill this legislative session.  However, we feel hopeful that a path has been paved for success in the next legislative session.

    Our lobbyist has been communicating with Rep. Maney, the sponsor for HB 1227, named the "Problem Solving Courts" bill, which has already been passed in the Senate and progressing rapidly in the House, in hopes of amending the bill to include 491 board licensees in the list of healthcare professionals who can be appointed b the courts for certain types of evaluations and expert witness testimony in criminal court cases.  While Rep. Maney sounds interested in the amendment, no amendment has been filed to date.  

    FMHCA has taken a position to oppose SB 1364, which, among other things, would obligate the 491 Board to issue a license to a person applying to the board if the following apply:

    1. The person holds a current and valid occupational license or government certification by another licensing entity in a lawful occupation with a similar scope of practice, as determined by a board in this state.
    2. The person has held the license for at least one year.
    3. A board for the other licensing entity required the person to pass an examination or meet education, training, or experience standards.
    4. The license is in good standing.
    5. The person does not have a disqualifying criminal record as determined by a board in this state.
    6. The person has not had their license revoked or surrendered because of negligence or intentional misconduct related to their profession.
    7. The person does not have a complaint, allegation, or investigation pending before a board for another licensing entity which relates to unprofessional conduct or an alleged crime. If the person has a complaint, allegation, or investigation pending, a board may not issue or deny an occupational license or government certification to the person until the complaint, allegation, or investigation is resolved or the person otherwise meets the criteria for an occupational license or government certification in this state to the satisfaction of a board in this state.
    8. The person pays all applicable fees in this state.

    FMHCA's position is to oppose this bill unless it is amended to create an exception for occupations that already have a licensure by endorsement process or compact in place (as we do).  Our objection is that (a) the bill does not give the 491 board the opportunity to require the applicant to have taken the NCMHCE exam (vs. the NCE or CRCC exams, which do not assess the counselor's ability to diagnose and treat mental disorders), and (b) the 491 Board predicts substantial administrative expenses and burdens that would be difficult to fund and that we at FMHCA believe would likely result in even more difficulty for the 491 board to respond in a timely manner to public and professional inquiries as well as necessitating more frequently 491 board meetings, longer waits to get on the agenda, etc.  I have attached the email from the Ashleigh Irving, the E.D. of the 491 Board, providing supporting details.

    Federal Legislation

    Although the regs for how counselors work with Medicare have not yet been written by CMS, some preliminary training opportunities are available.  Medicare 101 is tomorrow, 4/21, and Medicare 201 is 5/5.  Register here: https://www.amhca.org/events/upcomingevents 

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SunCoast Mental Health Counselors Association

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