Current Issues in Legislation

Updated: August 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 is in the process of scheduling a meeting with Kim Buxenbaum, the new director of the Office of Special 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.
  • 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.
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

NJSHA’s lobbyist met with Jill Ippolito, the Governor’s new director of appointments on April 17 to discuss these appointments. AND on June 5, the Governor announced the appointments to the Task Force! It appears that THREE NJSHA members will be sitting on the 13-member Task Force.

Section 2. b. (2) designates five representatives from programs that provide services to individuals with aphasia. Kean University Institute for Adults Living with Communication Disabilities: Mary Jo Santo Pietro; JFK – Johnson Rehabilitation Institute: Janice Dibling

Section 2. b . (3) where the Governor has two direct appointments. Appointment of Linda Tucker-Simpson for the “professional who provides speech-language pathology services to persons with aphasia”

Hearing Impairment Task Force: S2705 Diegnan (D-Middlesex)/A4539, Quijano (D-Union) – Establishes NJ Hearing Impairment Task Force. Signed into Law, Jan 8, 2018, P.L. 2017, c. 255

NJSHA is actively working to secure Olivia Van Wagner, audiologist to become a member of this task force.

Advisory Council on Deaf and Hard of Hearing: S3263 Kean (D-Union)/A4837, 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.

Medicaid Coverage for Hearing Devices: A5139 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.

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.

Working Group on Deaf Education: A1893 Benson (D-Mercer)/S2045, Turner (D-Mercer) – Establishes Working Group on Deaf Education and directs DOE to develop parent resource guide and select early intervention assessments to identify language delays in deaf and hard of hearing children.

Deaf Students Bill of Rights: A1896, Benson/S2044 Turner. As previously reported, these bills passed the full Senate unanimously on Jan 31. They contain the amendments we secured in the Assembly Education Committee back in October and additional amendments NJSHA has viewed as positive. The bills are being heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on June 13. Assemblyman Benson will be accepting some of NJSHA’s additional proposed amendments and they will be incorporated into the bill when it is released by the Committee.

Behavior Analyst Licensure: S3099 Weinberg (D-Bergen)/A4608, Zwicker (D-Somerset) – Behavior Analyst Licensing Act. There has been no further action on this bill.

Music Therapist Licensure: A2183 Andrzejczak (D-Cape May) /S1687, VanDrew (D-Cape May) – Provides licensure for music therapists. The bill passed the full Assembly in April 2018 but has had no action in the Senate.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

State Recognition: 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, in May. Designated as AJR142, the resolution was heard and released by the Assembly Human Services Committee on the 16th of the month. The resolution is sponsored by Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex). Special thanks go to past and future NJSHA board member Maria Rodriguez who was instrumental in getting it introduced.

The NJ Department of Education – Board Members recognized and presented NJSHA a plague for May is Better Hearing and Speech Month in April 2019.

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 has submitted NJSHA member Marty Shulman’s name, to the Governor’s Appointments Office to fill the SLP vacancy on Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee. This appointment is still pending.

S1589, Singleton (D-Burlington)/A3872, Lopez (D-Middlesex) – Requires certain standards for professional and occupational boards considering applicants with criminal history records. No further action on this legislation. It is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee. S1589 passed the full Senate (35-0) on February 23.

A2810, Greenwald (D-Camden)/ S2963, Pou (D-Passaic) – Requires active supervision by AG’s office of professional boards and occupational licensing boards. Signed into law on May 10, P.L. 2019, c. 112.