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Do you know what your state did last summer?

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Recent developments impacting occupational therapy practices in all 50 states

Do you know what your state did last summer?

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As we move into the Labor Day weekend and the unofficial end of summer, many of us are returning from vacations (whether actual or just mental) and trying to focus on the year ahead. Many people take comfort in knowing they can take a break in the summer months because everyone else is as well—so the work just doesn’t pile up as much if we miss time in the summer. 

This may be even truer in state government than in many other sectors; of the 50 states only 9 state legislatures operate on a full time, year-round, schedule. The rest of them meet anywhere from 30 legislative days to around 5 or 6 months of the year. But are they truly not doing anything?

The answer is no. When legislators are not in session they are still working with colleagues and staff to study and develop policy proposals for introduction in the next legislative session. One such way that has a major impact on licensure and scope of practice is through the “sunrise” and “sunset” review process.

Sunrise reviews are conducted when a state is considering new business or professional credentialing proposals. Sunset reviews are done to examine whether existing professions should continue to be regulated, no longer need to be regulated, or whether the regulating statute needs to be updated.

One sunset review impacting occupational therapy was recently detailed in the story Delaware PT Scope of Practice Bill Amended to Address OT Concerns. In this situation, a sunset review of the practice of physical therapy produced legislation that could have potentially expanded the physical therapy scope of practice in Delaware. Washington State recently conducted a sunrise review to consider licensure for the practice of behavior analysis. Legislators and staff in New Mexico and Utah are currently undertaking sunset reviews on the occupational therapy practice acts.

This type of work is going on all the time throughout legislative sessions and during the interim between the sessions. It is extremely important to be aware of this and other activity impacting the practice of occupational therapy—and AOTA state affairs staff is here to help. Please follow this blog throughout the year along with our State News & Information page on the AOTA website to keep current on what your state is doing (or not doing) to regulate occupational therapy professionals.

  • Josh, thanks for reminding us of the fact a lot is going on during the "interim" at the legislature. Committees are meeting, agendas are being set, etc. I appreciate your work on our behalf.