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GEORGIA

Legislation to deregulate several professions must wait for next year

The General Assembly did not pass House Bill 581, which would have terminated a number of Georgia licensing boards and commissions, during its first session, but it will be available for action at the next session. HB 581 seeks to abolish the following: Athlete Agent Regulatory Commission, Board of Athletic Trainers, Auctioneers Commission, Utility Contractors Division, Board of Cosmetology, Board of Examiners of Licensed Dieticians, Board of Registration for Foresters, Board of Landscape Architects, Board for the Certification of Librarians, Board of Occupational Therapy, and the Board of Registration of Used Motor Vehicle Dealers and Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers.

The next legislative session convenes January 12, 1998. For more information about the proposed legislation, contact the Georgia Clerk's Office.

KENTUCKY

Debate over alternative medicine pits citizens' group against licensure board

A Kentucky citizens' organization, the Patients Rights Advocacy Group (PRAG) is squaring off against the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for a battle to be waged next legislative sesssion. PRAG has begun lobbying for state legislation to prohibit Kentucky's Board of Medical Licensure from disciplining doctors for using alternative treatments. The legislation would also require an alternative medicine expert to sit on the Board.

PRAG's supporters claim Kentucky doctors now avoid alternative medicine because of fear of reprisal from the Board, even though Kentucky has no written policy prohibiting many alternative cures. They say doctors have been put on probation or have even lost their licenses for prescribing alternative therapies. For residents, this results in decreased choice and less control over the treatment they receive. "We think people should have a choice, which they don't have now," said Nellie Peters, PRAG president. "Now, we've got people going to Ohio and Indiana to get these treatments because they're unavailable here."

Dr. Royce Dawson, who chairs the Board, contends, "Our only vendetta is to give the citizens of Kentucky the best medicine we can, and keep any deception out of it." The Board feels opening the door to less conventional medical practices may make it easier for unscrupulous practitioners to cheat and even harm patients.

Similar legislation PRAG proposed in Kentucky's 1996 General Assembly failed to pass. Other states who have passed "medical freedom acts" include Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington (source: Warren, Jim. "Alternative medicine: not what the doctors order in Kentucky." Lexington Herald-Leader 18 May 1997: A1).

NEW YORK

Board of Regents extends waiting period for re-licensure to three years

Amended Regents Rules (section 24.7) now require applicants for restoration of a revoked or surrendered license to wait at least three years before applying. Previously, applicants were able to apply for restoration after only one year. Proponents, including New York's State Boards for the Professions, say the regulatory change underscores the seriousness of the disciplinary action, offers a more appropriate time frame for rehabilitation and reeducation, and resulst in a half-million savings for the state.

Additionally, administrative changes will result in a more streamlined process. For example, applicants for restoration will be required to complete a comprehensive application and collect all the necessary supporting information themselves. Furthermore, applicants will no longer be required to appear in person before a peer panel when it recommends that restoration be granted, and all peer panel proceedings will be stenographically recorded, allowing for quicker reporting of the panel's findings. The changes are estimated to speed processing by 75%.

For more information, please contact Frank Munoz at (518) 486-1765 or fmunoz@mail.nysed.gov (source: Office of the Professions' Update, May 1997, p. 2).

WEST VIRGINIA

Scope of practice widened for podiatrists, optometrists; massage therapy gains licensure; examinations added for respiratory care

The following pieces of legislation affecting the practice of professions and occupations were passed recently in West Virginia:

Please keep CLEAR updated on current events in your state or province. Send enacted legislation, press releases, or other news items of interest to the occupational and professional regulatory community to Adam Parfitt