Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/18/1996 02:20 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              HB 405 BD OF OPTOMETRISTS; OPTICIANS                            
  SENATOR KELLY announced  HB 405  to be up for consideration.                
 ROGER POPPE, Staff to Representative Kott, sponsor,   said HB 405             
 extended the Board to 2002, clears up a conflict between                      
 optometrists and opticians, both of whom have assistants who assist           
 them in dispensing glasses and contact lenses.  It's been the                 
 opticians position that any dispensing would have to come under               
 their jurisdiction.  So optician apprentices would have to be                 
 qualified to this and that would include all assistants who are               
 working for optometrists and ophthalmologists.  After much debate             
 a decision was made in favor of the optometrists.  So people who              
 work for opthomologist or optometrists do not have to have their              
 assistants be licensed as optical assistants or optician                      
 He explained that section 4 was a housekeeping provision.  Section            
 5 eliminates statutory references one of which is the requirement             
 to have branch offices for the Board - no longer necessary in                 
 Alaska.  In addition there are some requirements that opticians               
 have to meet certain visual and health requirements.  They are the            
 only Board that had this requirement so there was some concern that           
 this wasn't constitutional and might involve litigation under the             
 Americans With Disabilities Act.  So the advice of Legislative                
 Budget and Audit was to eliminate the reference.                              
 CATHERINE REARDON, Division of Occupational Licensing, supported HB           
 RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, said HB 405 addressed all their            
 audit's concerns.                                                             
 LARRY HARPER, licensed optician, said he is currently serving on              
 the Board of Directors of the National Contact Lens Examiners which           
 is the nationally certified testing agency for contact lens                   
 fitters. He said in the 1980 sunset review the legislature                    
 intentionally removed the exemption that existed at that time for             
 optometrists and their employees.  The reason then, as now, is if             
 opticians are licensed, they should be licensed regardless of where           
 they are employed.                                                            
 People in the State of Alaska have a right to expect that opticians           
 are licensed regardless of where the purchase is made.  They have             
 been licensed for 23 years and there is no reasonable way to                  
 determine whether a person is qualified to perform their duties               
 except by licensure.  Giving optometry this exemption effectively             
 creates a two tier level of competence within the field adding to             
 consumer confusion.                                                           
 There is no way for an optometrist or a physician to adequately               
 supervise all that goes on in their office.  In addition it would             
 create an unfair competitive advantage for optometrists and shows             
 a blatant disregard for the Alaskan public.                                   
 SENATOR KELLY said they would set HB 405 aside while the connection           
 with Fairbanks was reestablished.                                             
 SENATOR KELLY announced  HB 405  to be up for consideration once              
 MR. HARPER, testifying from Fairbanks, said the two people who were           
 going to testify from Fairbanks, James Rothmeyer and Pam Gajdos,              
 are associates of his and were going to testify along the same                
 lines as he did.                                                              
 SENATOR TORGERSON moved to pass HB 405 from committee with                    
 individual recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects