Sunrise Analysis: Regulation of Veterinary Technicians
Report No. 14-15, December, 2014
Regulation of veterinary technicians is not necessary
Senate Bill No. 2502, Senate Draft 1, of the 2014 Legislature proposes to regulate veterinary technicians and the practice of veterinary technology under Chapter 471, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Veterinary Medicine. The bill would require veterinary technicians to register with the Board of Veterinary Examiners, limit the use of certain titles related to the practice of veterinary technology, and incorporate veterinary technicians into existing disciplinary measures in Chapter 471, HRS.
Proposed regulation does not meet “sunrise” criteria
Statutory criteria for evaluating whether a profession or vocation merits state regulation require that proponents of regulation provide evidence supporting this need to engage the state’s police powers. We found no evidence of abuses by veterinary technicians to merit regulation. Other than anecdotal risks of harm, we did not find any evidence to support a need to protect consumers’ health, safety, or welfare from the activities of veterinary technicians. Furthermore, these risks are satisfactorily mitigated by existing requirements that veterinary technicians work under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
Most states regulate veterinary technicians, but we found that the current proposal is motivated primarily by an industry effort to establish national professional standards. We also found that the proposed regulation would restrict certain qualified individuals from entering the field of veterinary technology, and that the effect of regulation on cost to consumers is unknown. On balance, there is no demonstrable need for the State to regulate veterinary technicians in Hawai‘i.
Proposed regulatory measure is flawed
SB No. 2502, SD 1 (2014), contains several flaws that would undermine a successful regulatory program. Specifically, the practice definition for veterinary technology is overly broad, making it difficult to enforce the proposed regulation. The bill’s educational qualifications for successful registration as a veterinary technician are too narrow and do not provide any alternative avenues for qualification. In addition, the proposed regulation does not address interstate reciprocity and fails to provide veterinary technicians with a representative on their own regulating body. The bill also calls for registration but essentially describes a level of regulation akin to licensure, the strictest form of regulation.
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs concurred with our findings regarding the estimated cost of funding a veterinary technician regulatory program and its financial impact on registrants. The department also expressed appreciation for our discussion regarding the difficulty of administering the broad scope of practice as defined in SB No. 2502, SD 1 (2014).
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Sunrise Analysis: Regulation of Herbal Therapists
Hawaii State Auditor, Report No. 14-14, December, 2014
Regulation of herbal therapists is not warranted
Proposed measure contradicts existing law and is problematic
Senate Bill No. 2439 of the 2014 regular session proposes to establish new regulatory requirements for individuals engaging in the practice of herbal therapy. The bill defines an herbal therapist as “a person with knowledge, skills, and experience in the direct personal health care of individuals based on herbal practices, including the utilization of herbal formulas to improve health and wellness, and who has met the standards and requirements pursuant to a license issued under this chapter.”
The purpose of the bill is to establish licensing requirements for contemporary herbal healers from all ancestries and for the benefit of the public as a whole. Licensing requirements would apply to any person who practices, offers to practice, or advertises the practice of herbal therapy, except those covered under Act 162, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 1998, Relating to the Practice of Medicine. The bill also proposes a fi ve-member board of herbal therapy to establish exam qualification requirements, issue licenses, establish fees and fines, and carry out disciplinary actions, among other powers and duties.
Under current law, traditional Native Hawaiian healers who have been recognized by a kūpuna council convened by Papa Ola Lokahi, a Native Hawaiian health board, are exempt from all provisions under Chapter 453, HRS, Medicine and Surgery. The intent of this law was to allow traditional Native Hawaiian healers to provide medical care for patients and place the traditional Hawaiian healing community (rather than the state) in charge of certifying healers. SB No. 2439 (2014) seeks to reverse this law by making the government, through a board of herbal therapy, responsible for determining who is qualified to engage in traditional Native Hawaiian healing. Furthermore, in addition to minor technical flaws in the bill, SB No. 2439 places the burden of establishing standards for qualification on the board, which may prove an extremely difficult task.
Regulation of herbal therapists does not meet sunrise criteria
The Hawai‘i Regulatory Licensing Reform Act, Chapter 26H, HRS, limits regulation of certain professions and vocations to situations in which it is reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. Proponents of regulation could not provide evidence that herbal therapy presents a clear and present danger to consumers. Moreover, the reason behind the proposed regulation is proponents’ attempt to seek licensing in order to practice traditional Native Hawaiian medicine without going through the kūpuna council recognition process provided in existing law. If SB No. 2439 were enacted, Hawai‘i would become the first state in the nation to regulate herbal therapists. The cost of regulation would likely be prohibitive since it would be spread among a small number of herbal therapist licensees; and existing alternatives to regulation—specifically, state and federal agencies—provide an adequate degree of protection for consumers.
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs shared our concern that regulation of herbal therapists could artificially increase the costs of herbal therapy to consumers. The department also concurred with our conclusion that Section 453-2(c), HRS, already provides an appropriate process for review and approval of Native Hawaiian healers.
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