The Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee has approved two occupational licensing bills with only one committee member voting against one of the proposals.
House Bill 356 seeks to expand the authority of the Idaho State Board of Podiatry.
The legislation would permit the podiatry board to administer disciplinary action against licensed podiatrists or prospectively licensed podiatrists. “We want to reach beyond simple revocation of a license, and we want to be able to require some additional training in the event of a disciplinary measure,” Hales stated. “We are also seeking the power to administer discipline to practitioners and the authority to enforce that discipline.”
“The bill is saying, in essence, that if the board says that you’re out of compliance with the board’s requirements, then you’re out of compliance,” observed Sen Fred Martin, R-Boise. “The board then is both the judge and jury. Please give me some comfort on this, Roger.”
“Whatever board action might be taken, a practitioner would have due process rights,” Hales said in response. “They could appeal it before a judge, and so forth.”
“I notice that the board is $150,000 in the hole,” commented Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian. “Are there any efforts under way to fix that?”
Lana Corey from the Idaho Board of Occupational Licensing replied that among the various occupational licensing boards in the state, the podiatry board is in the worst financial condition. “They are the most indebted, and it’s a result of some long-standing disciplinary issues,” she replied.
Occupational licensing boards are supposed to be self-funding entities, funded with the licensing fees, and other fines and penalties levied against its professional licensees. Corey told Hagedorn that the podiatry board will likely ask the Legislature for extra funding next year.
Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, was the lone vote against House Bill 356. Citing language from the bill, Nuxoll observed that, with House Bill 356, the podiatry board would be given the authority to exact discipline against podiatrists and prospective podiatrists "found by the board to have failed to comply with an order issued by the board.”
“This language is too vague and too broad,” Nuxoll stated. “For this reason, I cannot support the bill.”
The other bill presented to the committee was House Bill 357, which seeks to redefine what constitutes a quorum for a meeting of the Idaho Speech and Hearing Services Board.
Currently the number of members required for a quorum is four. The existing requirement that the legislation seeks to eliminate is the need to have a "public board member" (a member of the public who is not a practitioner) present to fulfill the quorum condition.
“It sounds like to me there is no requirement for a member of the public to be present at board meetings for other occupational boards, am I right?” asked Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow.
“That is correct,” Corey replied. “Requiring a member of the public to be present at meetings is unique to this board and it has become a problem at times. Eliminating this requirement will allow us to be more responsive.”
Martin asked “why is the board requesting this change? I am assuming that there were some real-life problems in establishing a quorum.”
Corey indicated that at times the existing quorum requirements created conflicts with board members’ work schedules.
The committee unanimously approved House Bill 357.
Both bills now face a vote of the full Senate.