Last week we received an email from APA’s Committee of State Leaders, APA Practice Directorate that AK-PA has been awarded a $5,000 grant to advance our efforts in introducing and passing new licensing legislation for Psychologists and Licensed Psychological Associates. The funds will be used to supplement hours for our Lobbyist and Executive Director working on the legislation as well as produce any infographics and one page documents needed for legislators.
In 2018 a delegation to the APA State Leadership Conference (which is now called Practice Leadership Conference) learned of APA’s Model Licensing Act (MLA) which was adopted by APA Council of representatives in 2010.
Upon returning home a committee was formed and a series of work-sessions open to members/public was held to gauge interest and accept input from a wide constituency. The work sessions examined and discussed the current licensing classifications, licensing requirements and gained interest and support of introducing an MLA for Alaska.
Currently, Alaska’s Statutes and Regulations for Psychologists and Psychological Associates provide for obtaining a license or obtaining a temporary license. From the public work groups, the AKA committee decided put forward a proposal to make changes to Alaska’s statutes covering the practice of psychology by amending how supervised post-doc hours are acquired, and the introduction of a Part Time and an Inactive license classification for both psychologists and psychological associates as a middle ground to the current options. The committee reviewed other state license classifications, the ASPPB and APA models and came up with draft bill language.
A draft of legislation language was developed in 2019 and continued to be refined in 2020 despite the COVID-19 Pandemic. In September of this year, our lobbyist, John Walsh, was able to get Representatives Spohnholtz (D) and Fields (D) to sponsor the MLA, both are co-chairs of the House Labor and Commerce Committee and both have agreed to sponsor the MLA through committee. This approach will help take the politics out of the bill in a Republican dominated legislature. A companion bill in the Senate would be desirable and we plan to meet with the Committee Chairwoman to discuss this further. It is our goal to have legislation introduced and passed before the end of the second session ending on May 15, 2022.
AK-PA recently presented the draft legislation to the Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associate Examiners and will meet with them again in December to go over the items line by line to discuss and provide answers in order to gain their support of the legislation.