A bill to set regulations for naturopathic physicians and some chiropractors using natural healing techniques died Monday, likely a victim of Senate rewrites.
House Bill 181 served as one of the most contentious and complex pieces of legislation in the 2015 session. After winning passage in the House, the plan came to the Senate for a three-hour hearing, plus several revisions to please parties warring for years over rules.
When it finally reached the Senate floor Monday, several senators praised the bill’s sponsor for moving the ball forward, but warned the changes were too much to approve without a committee hearing.
“I would really like to see the current version have a hearing in committee,” said Sen. John Tippetts, R-Bennington.
Recognizing the clock is running out in the 2015 session, he said if Hagedorn’s bill is the right fix this year, “it will still be a right fix in a year from now.”
Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, compared the bill to a baseball game in which officials change the whole contest in the ninth inning.
“I think there’s a need to go back through committee,” Lakey said.
Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, piled on. “There’s a great deal of information to digest very quickly,” she said. “I am concerned about the confusion.”
Confusion enveloped this bill from the start. During hearings, sponsors said the measure wouldn’t have affected naturopaths who don’t want to perform surgery or prescribe some drugs. Those naturopaths argued the measure would, in fact, make it harder to compete and could regulate them out of their jobs.
Bill sponsor Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said his measure only increased the scope of practice for naturopathic physicians by allowing them to prescribe drugs and perform minor surgical procedures.
Naturopathic physicians are different from naturopaths because the physicians have had standard medical training, but also use natural healing methods.
Chiropractors who use some natural healing techniques also revolted, saying the bill’s first iteration would have excluded them and curtailed some of their practices.
The naturopaths, too, objected, saying the final measure gave a state board too much power over the profession.
In the end, the questions and concerns about a bill twice-rewritten after closed-door negotiations proved too much.
“I think he has given us a path forward,” said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, of Hagedorn. “I do feel we have not had enough time to go over every single world of this new draft.”
In closing debate, Hagedorn pleaded his case.
“Making sausage is not a pretty deal,” he explained. “This has been a tough sausage to make.”
The measure secured only 10 votes, with 25 senators voting to kill it.
The Senate did approve a measure to repeal another section of state law regulating naturopaths. That section is in place, but not effective because it lacks on oversight board to enforce and administer regulations.
Sponsor Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, said his measure wouldn’t hurt anyone, but would take regulations off those practicing in the field but in violation of the law.
“This is an attempt to start over,” Schmidt said.
Some senators, including Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, questioned if removing the rules would put anyone out of businesses.
“We’ve been doing this for the past 10 years and the sky hasn’t fallen,” Guthrie said. “I worry about legislating people out of a job.”
Schmidt’s measure cleared on a 25 to 10 count, and now heads to the Idaho House.