Current Issues in Legislation

Updated: November 2019

The Legislative Committee is working with our governmental affairs consultants, Lynn Nowak and Jacy Lance at Porzio Governmental Affairs. NJSHA is currently tracking 258 bills introduced and moving in the Legislature. We also monitor activity at the State Board of Education (BOE), Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Licensing Committee and in other State departments and the Governor’s Office. Outlined below are some of our top priority bills and other initiatives for 2019.

NJSHA Working for YOU in Trenton

SEMI Eligibility: NJSHA has been seeking to obtain a definitive answer from the State regarding whether or not clinical interns/fellows are eligible to bill for reimbursement by SEMI in school settings. NJSHA reps had a call with Sarah Adelman, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Human Services who oversees Medicaid along with several other Medicaid staffers. Their feeling was that Medicaid could issue a guidance memo or other document saying that these individuals would be eligible BUT they cannot mandate action by a school district.

Meeting with Director of Special Ed: NJSHA met with Kim Buxenbaum, the director of the Office of Special Education and Dominic Roti, the director of the Office of Special Education Policy and Dispute Resolution on Wed, Aug 28. It was a most productive and positive meeting. Items discussed included: tele-practice in schools; use of contracted services in schools; the two recently passed deaf education bills; services for deaf and hard of hearing children; continuing education; and mandatory code education.

Special Education Funding: Under Senate President Sweeney leadership, two bills that address special education funding have been introduced as part of his 27-bill “Path to Progress” initiative.

Summary of bills NJSHA is monitoring:

  • S3758: Pennacchio (R- Passaic/Bergen) – Provides for direct State payment of cost of special education and related services for “high needs placement students,” where the cost of special education and related services in their IEP is $55,000 or more. Read S.3758
  • S3759: Addiego (D-Burlington) – Creates special education unit within the Office of Administrative law; requires annual report. Both bills were introduced on May 16 and referred to the Senate Education Committee. Timing regarding hearings on the legislation is still unclear. NJSHA’s Legislative Committee has held a conference call in July to discuss these bills. Read S.3759
Aphasia Task Force: S3607, Weinberg (D-Bergen)/A5326, Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) – Amends Mike Adler Aphasia Task Force law to provide term limits for members and replace obsolete task force member. Signed into law, Jan 16, 2018, P.L 2017, c. 342

On June 5, 2019 Governor Murphy announced long-awaited appointments to the Aphasia Task Force! NJSHA successfully secured the appointment of THREE members to the 13-member Task Force. NJSHA members were appointed to serve in the following capacities:

  1. Section 2.b.(2) of the legislation designates five representatives from programs that provide services to individuals with aphasia.
    • Kean University Institute for Adults Living with Communications Disabilities: Mary Jo Santo Pietro
    • JFK – Johnson Rehabilitation Institute: Janice Dibling
  2. Section 2.b.(3) of the legislation provides the Governor two direct appointments. Linda Tucker-Simpson was chosen to fill the designation for “professional who provides speech-language pathology services to persons with aphasia.”
Advisory Council on Deaf and Hard of Hearing: S.3263 Kean (D-Union) / A.4837, Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) – Updates membership and revises purpose of the Advisory Council on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in DHS. This bill was amended to add a “speech-language pathologist who has experience working with deaf and hard of hearing populations” to the Council. An audiologist was already included in the bill as introduced. This bill passed the Senate unanimously in March 2019 and is awaiting consideration by the full Assembly. Read S.3263 / A.4837

Medicaid Coverage for Hearing Devices: A.5139 Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson) – Expands Medicaid coverage for assistive hearing devices including hearing aids, cochlear implants when prescribed or deemed medically necessary by a physician or audiologist. Introduced on March 5 and referred to Assembly Human Services Committee. No further action on this bill. Read A.5139

Meeting with the Director of the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: We are in the process of setting up a meeting with Elizabeth Hill, the director of the division. She has reached out to NJSHA previously.

Behavior Analyst Licensure: S3099 Weinberg (D-Bergen) / A4608 Zwicker (D-Somerset) – This bill passed the Assembly in January 2019 and is awaiting consideration in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. NJSHA has provided the sponsors with a detailed letter expressing our concerns and suggesting specific amendments to include the practice of speech-language pathology among the list of professions explicitly excluded from the practice of behavior analysis. Behavior Analyst Licensure

Music Therapist Licensure: A.2183 Land (D-Cape May) / S.1687 Cruz Perez (D-Camden) – Going back several sessions, NJSHA secured amendments to this legislation that protect the scopes of practice of speech and audiology practitioners. These include mandating collaboration with a patient’s SLP or audiologist when providing services to patients with certain speech or swallowing disorders and prohibiting a music therapist from replacing SLSs or SLPs when providing educational or rehabilitation services. It is important to note that the bill, as introduced, states that the practice of music therapy does not include the diagnosis of any physical, mental or communication disorder. This bill has passed the full Assembly in April of 2018 and is awaiting consideration in the Senate Commerce Committee. Music Therapist Licensure

State Recognition: AJR142 Lopez (Middlesex) – A formal state resolution that will permanently name May as Better Hearing and Speech Month in New Jersey, took the first step forward in the legislative process, fittingly, passing the Assembly Human Services Committee in May 2019. Special thanks go to NJSHA board member Maria Rodriguez who was instrumental in getting it introduced. Read AJR142

The New Jersey Department of Education: In April 2019, Board Members recognized and presented a plaque to NJSHA leadership, designating May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Insert picture of Mary/Sue accepting proclamation from Repollet.

County Recognition: A Union County resolution was presented to NJSHA for May as Better Hearing and Speech Month in April 2019.

NJSHA wishes to extend our appreciation to all governmental bodies recognizing the contributions of the speech-language pathologists and audiologists to the communities they serve.

The Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee regulates the profession of audiology and speech-language pathology in New Jersey. The committee licenses audiologists and speech-language pathologists. NJSHA is actively monitoring the promulgation of regulations to implement PL 2019 c. 41, which allows audiologists to dispense hearing aids without obtaining a second license.

Criminal History Checks for Licensure Applicants: S.1589 Singleton (D-Burlington) / A.3872 Lopez (D-Middlesex) – Requires certain standards for professional and occupational boards considering applicants with criminal history records. This bill passed the full Senate unanimously in February 2019 and is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee. Criminal History Checks for Licensure Applicants

Active State Supervision of Professional Licensing Boards: A2810 Greenwald (D-Camden) / S2963 Pou (D-Passaic) – Requires active supervision by AG’s office of professional boards and occupational licensing boards. This bill came as a result of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC. The US Supreme court held that a state occupational licensing board that is composed primarily of persons active in the market it regulates, has immunity from anti-trust law only when it is actively supervised by the state. Signed into law on May 10, 2019. P.L. 2019, c. 112. Active State Supervision of Professional Licensing Boards