2013-2014 Legislative Summary

2013-2014 Legislative Summary
These past two legislative sessions have been eventful for the MN music therapy community. Below is a timeline of events from the 2013 and 2014 biennium.

Music Therapists Now Included in the Teacher’s Union
-In the 2014 legislative session, action was taken to add music therapists to the definition of “teachers.” This bill will allow music therapists employed by school districts to be a part of the teacher’s bargaining unit.
-This bill, authored by Sen. Hoffman was heard in the Senate Education and State and Local Government committees, was approved by the full senate, and then approved by the full house. It was signed in to law by Gov. Dayton on May 16, 2014 and be in effect on July 1, 2014.
-On the house side, the bill was championed by Represenatives Yarusso, Carlson, Urdahl, Davnie, and Morgan.
-The teacher’s union lobbyist was a great supporter and advocate throughout the process.

Licensure
-Two bills were submitted for music therapy licensure – one in the house, HF849 authored by Rep. Zach Dorholt, and one in the senate SF404 authored by Sen. Julie Rosen.
-Because 2013 was a budget year, most legislators focused on issues relating to budget proposals. However, we were able to meet and pass out folders information to over 50 lawmakers at our Day on the Hill.
-Throughout the process, many co-authors signed on. In the senate, Senators Fischbach, Hoffman, Eaton, and Dziedzic co-sponsored the bill. On the house side, Representatives Carlson, Bly, Freiberg, Lien, Halverson, and Loeffler signed on in support of music therapy licensure.
-In 2014, the two bills remained active in the both the house and the senate. SF404 was first heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and was passed. At that hearing, representatives from the Minnesota Speech and Language Pathology and Physical Therapy communities were present. Though they did not testify against the bill at the time, meetings were set to address concerns they had about music therapy licensure.
-SF404 was then heard in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. It was passed, despite opposition from a Sound Healer and a libertarian organization Justice for Freedom.
-A fiscal note was then added to the Senate bill for an extremely high amount. Because of this and not getting movement on the house side, Sen. Rosen pulled the bill from the next hearing. A fiscal note is determined by the number of therapists in the state currently practice and the expected number of therapists for the few years. However, a new software program used by the state for licensure issues was put in to use this year and is to be payed for through new licensure fees which affected the predicted fee for music therapists.
-On the house side, only licensure applicants without any opposition or edits to existing licensures were heard. The chairperson, Sen. Liebling, was also concerned that there was no “potential for harm” from having unlicensed music therapists. The task force has since created a document clearly stating the necessity of having regulation for music therapy in order to protect clients.
-Throughout the session, we received help and guidance from the Fraser School’s public policy specialist.
-Folders of information about music therapy were passed out to EVERY legislator as part of Minnesota Music Therapy Week.
-The Task Force will continue to meet with groups expressing opposition to find language suitable to all parties. New bills will need to be filed next session for 2015 and 2016.