The Legislature adjourned for the year and the Governor has completed his bill signing duties. One very important bill that has not been mentioned in this column is SB 821. This bill was sponsored by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. This was considered a non-controversial omnibus bill that cleaned-up and made minor changes to certain sections of the Business and Professions code.
SB 821, which was signed by the Governor, is significant for two very important reasons. One, it delayed the new testing structure for LCSW licensure from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2016. The reason for this delay is two-fold. One, budget cuts at the BBS have made it difficult to have enough staff to process current people in the licensing or renewal system. Secondly, a new computer process called BreEZe has been experiencing glitches and delays.
As many may already know, part of the new licensing process is to go back to the National Exam rather than the California specific clinical exam. The second exam LCSW candidates will need to take for licensure after 2016 will be a California specific Law and Ethics exam which must be taken first. More information on the licensure process can be found at www.naswca.org/associations/7989/files/StepstoLCSWforMSWs.pdf.
The second reason that SB 821 is significant is because it clarified, under the scope of practice for an LCSW, that LCSW’s can basically practice what they have been trained on. It references a section of that law that outlines the 3,200 hours of post-master’s degree supervised experience that an LCSW must complete for licensure which includes “A minimum of 2,000 hours in clinical psychosocial diagnosis, assessment, and treatment, including psychotherapy or counseling.”
Hopefully, this language will clear up the many questions we receive each year on whether or not LCSWs can diagnosis. Of course, we have always argued that LCSWs can diagnose, but being able to directly reference something in law should be helpful.
Here is the final disposition of bills that had not been signed by the Governor since the last newsletter:
NASW-CA Support Bills Signed by the Governor
AB 4 (Ammiano) State Government: Federal Immigration Policy Enforcement
Sets state policy that prohibits local officials from detaining an individual on an immigration hold after that person becomes eligible for release from criminal custody unless the person has a serious or violent conviction.
AB 218 (Dickinson) Employment Applications: Criminal History
Would prohibit a state or local agency from asking an applicant to disclose information regarding a criminal conviction on an initial employment application until after the applicant’s qualifications for the position have been determined to meet the requirements for the position.
AB 263 (Hernandez) Employment Retaliation: Immigration Related Practices
Provides that it shall be unlawful for an employer or any other person or entity to engage in unfair immigration-related practices, as defined, against any person for the purpose of retaliating against any person for exercising any rights protected under the Labor Code.
AB 402 (Ammiano) Disability Income Insurance: Mental Illness
This bill would require that every policy of disability income insurance that is of a short-term limited duration of two years or less that is issued, amended, or renewed on or after July 1, 2014, and that provides disability income benefits to provide coverage for disability caused by severe mental illness.
AB 460 (Ammiano) Health Care Coverage Infertility
Requires that health care service plans offer coverage for the treatment of infertility without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
AB 602 (Yamada) Mentally and Developmentally Disabled Persons
Would require a training course for law enforcement to be developed by July 1, 2015 to train officers on their interactions with the mentally disabled or developmentally disabled. Also imposes additional requirements on mandated reporters in state mental hospitals and state developmental centers.
AB 663 (Gomez) LGBT Training for Administrators at Residential Facilities
This bill would require training in cultural competency and sensitivity in aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues to address the special needs of elderly LGBT adults in residential facilities for seniors.
NASW-CA Support Bills Vetoed by the Governor
AB 174 (Bonta) Public School Health Centers
This bill would create a pilot grant program to fund school-based mental health services for children and adolescents impacted by violence and trauma.