Current Issues in Legislation

Updated: March 2020
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Updated: February 2020

NJSHA’s Legislative Committee works hand-in-hand with our governmental affairs consultants, Lynn Nowak and Jacy Lance at Porzio Governmental Affairs. NJSHA tracked 258 bills introduced and moving through the Legislature in 2019. A new legislative session began on January 14, 2020 and we will continue to update the space below with NJSHA-related bills as they move through the legislative process. Bill text is not available until legislation is re-introduced and referred to Committee. We will update this page often.

NJSHA Working for YOU in Trenton

SEMI Eligibility: NJSHA will be setting up a meeting with Jennifer Langer Jacobs, the new head of Medicaid, in March 2020 to get final determination on Medicaid’s position regarding whether or not clinical fellows are eligible to bill for reimbursement by SEMI. While Medicaid has previously indicated that this is allowed, we are still seeking final confirmation of this fact and have asked what actions can be taken to make this position publicly known.

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.

NJSHA is aware that the NJ Special Education Code is expiring in June of 2020. We are in the process of reaching out to Ms. Buxenbaum to obtain advance information about proposed changes. NJSHA’s School Affairs Committee will be discussing any other potential amendments that we could proactively offer to the State DOE as part of this process.

Special Education Funding: The final budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 included $50 million in increased state funding for extraordinary special education costs, bringing the total to $250 million. Extraordinary aid goes toward reimbursing school districts for costs above $40,000 for students who are in-district and $50,000 in private schools. Senate President Sweeney led the effort for this funding increase and has committed to raising this appropriation to cover all costs above $55,000. The goal is to include $50 million in each of the next three budgets in order to close the gap on the state’s obligation to pay the extra costs for students requiring the greatest services.

A campaign is underway led by the Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform (NJSHA has been a participant for many years with Sue Goldman serving as our representative) to support the additional $50 million in funding for this purpose in the upcoming FY2021 Budget and in subsequent ones. NJSHA has signed on as a supporter of this specific effort.

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) would update membership and revise the purpose of the Advisory Council on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in DHS. In the 2018-2019 legislative session, NJSHA worked to secure amendments to add a speech language pathologist who has experience working with deaf and hard of hearing populations. An audiologist was already included in the bill as introduced. This bill was passed by both houses of the Legislature in 2019, but was pocket vetoed by Governor Murphy at the end of the legislative session. We will monitor for re-introduction of this legislation.

Medicaid Coverage for Hearing Devices: A.856 Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson) – This bill expands Medicaid coverage for assistive hearing devices including hearing aids, cochlear implants when prescribed or deemed medically necessary by a physician or audiologist. It was introduced in the 2018-2019 legislative session but did not receive any hearings. The bill was reintroduced for the 2020-2021 Legislative session and we will continue to monitor. Read A.856

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.

In the 2018-2019 legislative session, NJSHA worked to protect the practice of speech language pathology by engaging in the legislative process and securing amendments to the Behavior Analyst Licensing bill and the Music Therapist Licensure bill. We will continue to track these initiatives as they move through the regulatory process.
State Recognition: AJR35 Lopez (Middlesex) – A formal state resolution that will permanently name May as Better Hearing and Speech Month in New Jersey was introduced on January 14, 2020. It has been referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee. Special thanks go to NJSHA board member Maria Rodriguez who was instrumental in getting this introduced. Read AJR35

The New Jersey Department of Education: On May 1, 2019, members of the State Board of Education recognized and presented a plaque to NJSHA leadership, designating May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Pictured are Mary Faella (NJSHA Past President), Sue Goldman (NJSHA Board of Directors member), Department of Education Commissioner Repollet and Board Vice President Kathy Goldenberg.

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 actively monitors this committee to stay aware of new information and provides comment/input on issues affecting the profession.

  • Single Licensure for Audiologists: NJSHA is actively involved in the promulgation of regulations to implement PL 2019 c. 41, which allows audiologists to dispense hearing aids without obtaining a second license.
  • Telemedicine/Telehealth: On November 3, 2019, the Committee proposed new rules to implement the law (P.L. 2017, c. 117) that provides the framework for the use of telemedicine and telehealth. As described above under “Triumphs,” NJSHA was actively involved in the crafting of this legislation. We provided formal comments to the Committee on the rule proposal, expressing support. We expect to see the formal adoption of the rules in the coming months.

Criminal History Checks for Licensure Applicants: S.942 Singleton (D-Burlington) / A.1393 Lopez (D-Middlesex) – Requires certain standards for professional and occupational boards considering applicants with criminal history records. This bill was heard in the Senate Commerce Committee on January 27, 2020 and was second referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. We will continue to monitor this bill. Criminal History Checks for Licensure Applicant

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