Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/05/2003 03:30 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 270 - PHARMACIST LICENSING                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 270,  "An Act  relating to  the licensure  of                                                               
pharmacists; and providing for an effective date."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0100                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY  DAHLSTROM, Alaska State  Legislature, spoke                                                               
as the  sponsor of  HB 270.   She  explained that  basically, the                                                               
Board of  Pharmacy can't deny  a license  to an applicant  with a                                                               
"checkered  background," such  as  an individual  with a  felony,                                                               
drug conviction, or  drug abuse problem.   However, public safety                                                               
and  the  pharmacy  profession   are  both  compromised  in  this                                                               
situation.   This  right to  deny a  license was  unintentionally                                                               
left  out  of   the  statute  when  originally   drafted.    This                                                               
legislation provides a  fix by allowing the Board  of Pharmacy to                                                               
deny a license  to an applicant with a criminal  background.  She                                                               
informed the committee  that all members involved  agree with the                                                               
proposed changes to  this statute.  She noted  that the committee                                                               
packet  should  include letters  of  support  from the  Board  of                                                               
Pharmacy  and   the  Alaska  Pharmaceutical  Association.     She                                                               
concluded by urging the committee's support for HB 270.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0226                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CINDY AUDET, Pharmacist, announced her  support of the passage of                                                               
HB  270.    Adding  the   proposed  language  would  provide  the                                                               
authority the  Board of Pharmacy  needs to protect  public safety                                                               
when reviewing applications.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked  if there was actually  a case that                                                               
precipitated this legislation.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. AUDET related her belief that  there was a case, although she                                                               
specified that she isn't a member  of the Board of Pharmacy.  She                                                               
related her  understanding that there  was confusion  with regard                                                               
to an application that the Board  of Pharmacy felt needed to have                                                               
had more  questions.  It  wasn't clear when more  questions would                                                               
automatically occur and when they wouldn't.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0323                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM agreed  that  there was  an issue  that                                                               
could have  potentially become a  serious problem,  and therefore                                                               
this legislation is preventative.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if, prior  to the passage of  HB 270,                                                               
an   individual   could've   used   the   application   procedure                                                               
fraudulently to  obtain a  license, although  the board  may have                                                               
felt the individual was fraudulent.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. AUDET  answered that  the way the  language read  it could've                                                               
happened as described  above, although she didn't  believe such a                                                               
situation has occurred.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if  a situation  ever arose  in which                                                               
the  Board  of Pharmacy  felt  an  applicant was  fraudulent  and                                                               
didn't  give  the  applicant  a   license,  and  the  matter  was                                                               
challenged.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. AUDET  related her belief that  it was the other  way around.                                                               
She recalled  that someone pointed  out that the board  was being                                                               
more  judicious  [with  the  review  process]  than  the  statute                                                               
allowed.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0402                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked, "Do you  know if there  are any                                                               
people that  would become  covered under ...  this change  of the                                                               
bill,  that people  would be  looking to  ... have  their license                                                               
removed?"                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. AUDET pointed out that  the application language for licensed                                                               
pharmacists has always  existed.  Therefore, she  said she didn't                                                               
know of  any threat  this proposal  would create  for any  of the                                                               
current  licensees.   In response  to  Representative Gatto,  Ms.                                                               
Audet  related  her belief  that  the  existing regulations  have                                                               
existed 10  years or less  because the  last revision was  in the                                                               
early 1990s.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0476                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARGARET  SODEN,  President,  Board  of  Pharmacy,  informed  the                                                               
committee that  a couple of years  of ago there was  an applicant                                                               
seeking licensure  in Alaska  and the board  wanted to  deny that                                                               
license.   However, the  board discovered  that it  didn't really                                                               
have the  authority to do  so.  The  board was lucky  because the                                                               
applicant had lied  on the application and thus  the board didn't                                                               
license  the applicant  based on  false application.   After  the                                                               
aforementioned  case, the  process to  add the  language "deny  a                                                               
license" to  the board's  statute began.   She confirmed  that in                                                               
the 1990s  the statutes  were written  and that  authority wasn't                                                               
given to the board.  Therefore,  the Board of Pharmacy wants this                                                               
language added.   Currently, there could be a  situation in which                                                               
a felon or an individual with  a revoked license in another state                                                               
would have to  be granted a license as long  as the applicant was                                                               
truthful on his/her application.   In such a situation, the board                                                               
would   have  to   take  the   applicant's   license  through   a                                                               
disciplinary sanction  process.  Ms.  Soden pointed out  that the                                                               
Board of  Pharmacy is only requesting  that it be able  to deny a                                                               
license of  an applicant based  on the same criteria  under which                                                               
the  board can  sanction a  license.   She  highlighted that  the                                                               
prolonged  period  for   disciplinary  sanctions  is  problematic                                                               
because a  person could continue  to have a license  and practice                                                               
while the disciplinary sanctions are in place.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON, upon  determining no one else  wished to testify,                                                               
announced that public testimony was closed.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD related his  understanding that Ms. Soden                                                               
was saying  that the  legislation would speed  up the  process of                                                               
taking a license.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  said she  understood that  the language                                                               
would  allow  the  board  to move  more  succinctly  through  the                                                               
process of  reviewing an application and  informing the applicant                                                               
that  he/she  doesn't  qualify  for  a  license  in  this  state.                                                               
However, under  the [current environment] the  applicant could be                                                               
hired or have  their own business and a lengthy  process [to take                                                               
the license] would ensue.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON  directed  attention  to  page  1,  line  4,  and                                                               
explained that  the language  allows the denial  of a  license at                                                               
the onset of the application.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG,  in relation  to the language  on page                                                               
1, line 4, asked if the applicant would receive a hearing.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON  reiterated that the  new language  specifies that                                                               
the board  can initially deny an  applicant or can do  so after a                                                               
hearing,  which is  the existing  law.   Therefore, allowing  the                                                               
denial  at  the  beginning  of   the  application  process  would                                                               
expedite the process.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SODEN noted her agreement.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0875                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked if  those applicants who are denied                                                               
during the initial stages would have an opportunity to appeal.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. SODEN  replied yes,  and clarified  that the  applicant would                                                               
have to show  why he/she should be granted a  license.  She noted                                                               
that the applicant would have the ability to appeal.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  if the  statute that  discusses                                                               
having  a hearing  refers to  an  "applicant" as  compared to  an                                                               
individual already holding a license.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SODEN  answered that under the  disciplinary regulations, the                                                               
board can sanction  the license of an individual  who has already                                                               
registered  in this  state.    She clarified  that  the Board  of                                                               
Pharmacy  already has  the ability  to  sanction an  individual's                                                               
existing  license,  but  doesn't  have the  ability  to  deny  an                                                               
applicant.    Therefore,  the applicant  would  have  to  receive                                                               
his/her  license as  long as  there was  no falsification  of the                                                               
application.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  turned to  the statutes for  a hearing                                                               
and asked if there is reference  to an individual who has already                                                               
had his/her license  denied or is it just those  who already have                                                               
a license that the board wants to address.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  asked if the language  "applicant" would                                                               
have to be added to the hearing statute as well.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SODEN  said  that the  Division  of  Occupational  Licensing                                                               
regulation   specialists   actually   developed   the   language.                                                               
Therefore,  she assumed  that  the board  has  the authority  [to                                                               
provide a hearing process for  an applicant] without changing any                                                               
other language.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1064                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  commented that he didn't  want to pass                                                               
this  and  find  out  that  an individual  who  has  had  his/her                                                               
application denied  has no  rights for a  hearing because  of the                                                               
lack  of  a  statutory  reference  for an  applicant  to  have  a                                                               
hearing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON  said  that  he  guessed  that  there  is  always                                                               
recourse,  the  ability to  appeal,  and  the possibility  for  a                                                               
hearing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1144                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ROBIN PHILLIPS,  Staff to Representative Dahlstrom,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  clarified that  the applicant  will have  an appeal                                                               
process while the licensee has a hearing process.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  said that  he wanted  to be  sure that                                                               
this legislation isn't [inadvertently]  denying the ability of an                                                               
applicant to have  a hearing.  He asked if  Ms. Phillips actually                                                               
reviewed [the statutes] to know that it's consistent.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PHILLIPS  replied  no.    However,  she  explained  that  an                                                               
applicant wouldn't  have a hearing  because an applicant  isn't a                                                               
licensee.  However,  the applicant can appeal the process.   In a                                                               
sense, the aforementioned is the applicant's hearing.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked if  the appeal  process statutes                                                               
refer to an applicant.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. SODEN related her belief that  this was all covered under the                                                               
Administrative  Procedures [Act  (APA)] for  licensing regardless                                                               
of the profession.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON related his belief that this is appealable.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SODEN  pointed  out  that  under  the  Board  of  Pharmacy's                                                               
section, AS 08.80.050 specifies that  the board shall comply with                                                               
the  APA.   In  further  response to  Chair  Anderson, Ms.  Soden                                                               
explained that a graduate from  pharmacological school would have                                                               
to have a certain number of  hours internship, be a graduate from                                                               
an accredited college, answer background  questions, and submit a                                                               
license  application.   The Board  of Pharmacy  would review  the                                                               
applicant's license  information.  Occasionally, there  are times                                                               
when an individual has something  "bad" in his/her background and                                                               
currently  the board  can't deny  the individual  the license  if                                                               
this applicant told the truth.   The individual would receive the                                                               
license  and  then  the  board  would  take  action  against  the                                                               
individual.   Until the denial  happens, the individual  could be                                                               
working.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD surmised  that everyone  agrees that  to                                                               
deny  a license  to an  applicant is  appropriate.   However, the                                                               
question is  whether the  term "applicant" needs  to be  added to                                                               
the statute referring to the appeal process.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON announced that HB 270  would be held over in order                                                               
to  determine  whether  the  statutes  are  consistent  with  the                                                               
language being proposed.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG   requested  having  someone   from  the                                                               
Division  of  Occupational  Licensing  testify  as  to  why  this                                                               
legislation is  necessary because sometimes there  is boilerplate                                                               
licensing  procedures  [in  division  statutes  that]  allow  for                                                               
denial.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM agreed to research these questions.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[HB 270 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

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