HB276, more commonly known by AK-PA members as the Model Licensing Act (MLA), was introduced as a committee bill through the Labor and Commerce Committee at the beginning of the legislative session. The Bill had a first committee hearing in January, and during the first reading, questions by committee members regarding Sections 4 and 8 introducing part time licenses for psychologists and psychological associates were raised. Labor and Commerce committee staff reported that the process of renewing a part time license would take the same amount of time and there would not be a reduced renewing fee. There would also not be an efficient way to monitor the number of part time hours that were worked. Section 10, that also introduced adding a tribal organization into the definition of who the practice of psychology does not apply to (AS 08.86.180), was also called into question.

Before the bill moved forward, AK-PA’s MLA Committee met to address the questions raised at the hearing. The Executive Director then met with the Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associate Examiners (BPPAE) to address some of their concerns in the bill. The first concern was in Section 2 regarding the resequencing of hours for interns, as a question that could possibly affect the public trust was raised. Because that data was not readily available in time to keep the bill moving forward, AK-PA agreed to pause this part of the bill and work with the BPPAE to edit the bill. When both parties are satisfied, the resequencing will be reintroduced in a future bill. The BPPAE was also informed that AK-PA’s MLA Committee had also agreed to drop Sections 4, 8 and 10.

HB276 is now a much smaller bill which includes regulations for the licensing board and adds an Inactive License for psychologists and psychological associates. The MLA committee feels it is worth proceeding with this smaller bill and to gain the win for those who will benefit from an inactive license. Should the bill pass, legislators will be more aware of psychology when resequencing of hours for students is reintroduced next year.

AK-PA sent an edited work draft of HB276 to Labor and Commerce last week which will be reintroduced this coming Monday. Public testimony will be available on a second reading. To follow progress on HB276, please go to this link http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/32?Root=hb276