Bill description: HB 3 would greatly increase the licensure fee for counselors and therapists while making moderate reforms to reduce barriers to the industry.
Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?
Currently, applicants are required to complete a 60-semester-hour graduate program, with at least six semester hours in a counseling practicum, all approved by the Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. Rather than requiring a specific number of hours, HB 3 would allow for any “master's degree or higher in counseling or a related field of study, as approved by the board, which includes completion of a practicum of supervised clinical contact.”
By eliminating the specific hour requirements, HB 3 would provide for more flexibility in the graduate programs applicants are required to complete for licensure.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?
To obtain a license, applicants are required to submit a $100 fee with their application. HB 3 would allow the board to raise that fee by as much as $75, to a new cap of $175.The board would receive the authority to increase the fee by changing its rules in the future.
This increase in the cap for the application fee (as well as the other fee increases) comes in response to an operating shortfall at the board. In FY 2018, the board had a total operating shortfall of just over $19,000 out of a total budget of $286,000. As of December 2019, the board still maintained a positive cash balance of $94,000.
HB 3 would allow for a 75 percent increase in the fees assessed to applicants and licensees. Applications and license renewals account for more than 90 percent of the board’s revenue. Such a substantial increase is not warranted and would put an undue burden on applicants and licensees who are forced to pay substantially increased fees.
The fee cap for endorsement licensure would increase from $100 up to $175.
The fee cap for annual renewals would increase from $100 up to $175.
HB 3 would, however, allow the board to refund a licensure fee for an applicant whose application is denied. When submitting their application, licensees would include both the initial application fee and the initial licensure fee, each of which is currently $100.