The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations was held on Friday, October 10, 2003, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Denver Butler, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Gary Tapp, Co-Chair; Representative Denver Butler, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, David Boswell, Tom Buford, Richard Roeding, Larry Saunders, Tim Shaughnessy, Robert Stivers, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Tom Burch, Larry Clark, Ron Crimm, James Gooch, Dennis Horlander, Joni Jenkins, Paul Marcotte, Charles Miller, Ruth Ann Palumbo, and Jon David Reinhardt.
Guests: Representative C. B. Embry, Jr.; Representative Stan Lee; Brenda Schissler, Kentucky Staffing Association; Dana Parker, Interpreter Administrator, Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Linda Bozeman, Interim Chairman, Kentucky Board of Interpreters of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Steve Horner, Commissioner of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; and Barry Boardman, LRC Staff Economist.
LRC Staff: Vida Murray, Jack Jones, Ann Seppenfield, Judy Fritz, and Susan Cunningham.
Representative C. B. Embry, Jr. told the committee that he would sponsor a bill in the 2004 session that would provide a fund for treating compulsive gambling. He said he had asked the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) to study compulsive gambling in Kentucky.
Barry Boardman, a staff economist for LRC, explained the results of the study to the committee. He said there were three study objectives; to identify the number of current compulsive gamblers; to describe the effects of compulsive gambling; and to examine current awareness and treatment efforts for compulsive gamblers. He said that in 1980 the American Psychiatric Association listed compulsive gambling as a psychiatric disorder similar to drug or alcohol dependence. A statewide telephone poll, as well as a survey of Gamblers Anonymous meeting attendees, revealed that money for gambling came from a variety of sources including bank loans, credit card charges, bad checks, or stolen money. He said gambling awareness efforts were being made by the Kentucky Council on Compulsive Gambling, the Kentucky Lottery, the Charitable Gaming Commission and the gambling industry; however, Kentucky state government does not earmark public funds for awareness programs.
Mr. Boardman cautioned that the results from the surveys are conservative but are in line with national figures. The statewide telephone survey found that there were approximately 20,000 problem gamblers in the state in the past year and that an estimated 24,000 adult Kentuckians sought treatment for gambling problems in the past year. From the 56 responses to the Gamblers Anonymous meeting attendee’s survey, over half indicated that they had other disorders such as alcohol and drug problems.
The results of a third survey of substance abuse counselors indicated that an estimated 20 percent had had some training in gambling addictions and that half of the counselors with training had received it in the past year.
Representative Burch asked if the survey showed how many people were in treatment this year and how much money was spent for counseling. Mr. Boardman said that the estimated number of people being treated for alcohol and drug abuse was around 7.5 percent, and the majority of those in treatment also had a gambling problem.
Senator Tapp asked how many people were actually surveyed to figure the percentage of people writing bad checks and stealing money. Mr. Boardman said there had been a problem with surveying Gamblers Anonymous meeting attendees because only 56 people had actually responded. He also said that compulsive gambling is a progressive disease and a gambler’s need for money would increase accordingly.
Senator Boswell said if there is a correlation between alcohol and drug abuse and compulsive gambling, then counselors in treatment centers for alcohol and drug abuse should be trained to counsel compulsive gamblers. He requested that a certified counselor be invited to come before the Licensing and Occupations Committee to answer questions.
Representative Miller asked if the survey results take into account how many people have filed bankruptcy or written bad checks who do not gamble.
Representative Butler asked if counselors certification programs were offered at universities. He said that Mr. Thomason, a recovering gambler who testified at an earlier committee meeting had indicted that the most effective counselors were former gamblers or recovering alcoholics who understood the problem firsthand. Murray Wood, LRC staff, said that the survey revealed that self-help and peer group programs were currently in use.
Next on the agenda, Representative Stan Lee explained BR 81, AN ACT relating to tongue splitting. He said that he wanted to ban tongue splitting as body art. He said it was a dangerous procedure being performed by tattoo artists, in the back rooms of tattoo parlors. Illinois has passed legislation to prohibit tongue splitting. Texas, Michigan and Iowa are also considering legislation banning this. Representative Lee showed a news clip from CBS 2 documenting that the procedure can be dangerous and is viewed by some medical personnel as self-mutilation. Also noted in the CBS 2 Report was Illinois State Representative David Miller, who indicated that the procedure is surgical and is not a simple piercing procedure. Representative Lee concluded that his bill prohibits tongue splitting unless performed by a doctor or a dentist for medical purposes.
Representative Butler recognized that there was a quorum at the meeting. A motion and second were made and the minutes of the last meeting were approved.
Representative Butler asked Representative Lee if he had checked with the American Medical Association to see if tongue splitting is a surgical procedure so that a person performing this could be charged with practicing medicine without a license. Representative Lee said people in tattoo parlors deny doing the tongue splitting but he says it is being done secretly. He also indicated there is a website promoting the procedure.
Representative Burch asked how many people had had this procedure done and what the purpose was for getting it done. Representative Lee said there were approximately 3,000 people nationwide and that tongue splitting was once considered a form of yoga.
Representative Clark asked why only oral surgeons would be given the right to perform this procedure and said he felt the American Medical Association should be contacted for its input on language for the bill. Representative Lee said dentists have training, some in oral surgery, and the procedure would be done in a sterile environment.
Senator Boswell said he did not disagree with what Representative Lee was trying to do; however, he questioned how the legislature could tell a person what he or she can or cannot do without violating one’s constitutional rights. Representative Lee responded that a certain level of education and training was mandated for employment and he felt there should be a line drawn to differentiate between body art and self mutilation.
Senator Buford said KRS Chapter 313 was probably broad and that the bill should be limited to dentists licensed to perform oral surgery and not include regular dentist. He also asked the chairman to have staff research the procedure and verify if it was a felony.
Senator Shaughnessy asked for an example of a therapeutic reason to have the tongue split. Representative Lee said a lesion, a lump, or cancer could be considerations for tongue splitting.
Representative Butler said that LRC staff should check to see if tongue splitting is already a surgical procedure.
Next on the agenda was Brenda Schissler representing, the Kentucky Staffing Association. She told the committee that she was asking for sponsorship for legislation that would protect an employer providing information about a former or current employee to a prospective employer. She said that the threat of lawsuits has a chilling effect on employers being forthcoming about information on former employees. She added that a lawsuit for negligence that goes to trial costs on average approximately three million dollars. She said that because of the time it takes to recruit, hire, and train employees, obtaining and training employees involves a substantial investment. She told the committee that background checks would be helpful with the ongoing concern for workplace violence. She indicated that 35 states have enacted laws providing employers protection against defamation suits for giving out truthful information.
Senator Stivers said he did not understand the need for the bill since employers who give truthful information will prevail in a law suit. Ms. Schissler responded that this bill would encourage businesses and human resource personnel to give out references.
Senator Buford said the legislation should allow the employer to give a neutral reference that didn’t disclose all the information in a personnel file if there was a possibility the employee could sue. Ms. Schissler said that only information regarding an employee’s guilt and subsequent prosecution should be forwarded to an employer.
Senator Boswell asked where Kentucky Staffing Association was located since he was unfamiliar with the company. Ms. Schissler replied that it was a temporary company based in Louisville with offices around the state.
Representative Burch asked how long similar legislation in the other 35 states had been in effect. He also commented that “most work place violence did not come from bad personnel files.” Ms. Schissler responded that Indiana’s legislation enacted last year was the most recent.
Representative Clark said the bill should be in the Labor and Industry Committee and that companies have pre-employment standards and follow national guidelines.
Senator Westwood said employers should not serve as a clearinghouse for information on their employees and the language of the bill should reflect that. Ms. Schissler said the bill was trying to keep the good employees from being hurt.
Senator Tapp said the legislation from last year was placed on the agenda to stimulate discussion.
Mr. Don Meade, an attorney from Louisville, said this legislation was motivated by the temporary staffing associations’ self-interest and allowed companies to fire employees with no liability. He said employer protection already exists for honest references.
Bill Londrigan, with the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, said he was opposed to the legislation in any form because there was no protection for the employee. He said there was no link between workplace violence and the employer immunity provided in the legislation, and that the legislation was one-sided.
Representative Butler said if a bill was introduced, leadership would be notified to send it to Labor and Industry.
Next on the agenda was Dana Parker from the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing who told the committee that in 1995 there were 30 certified interpreters in the state. She said today there are 178 persons identified with national certification and interpreters are coming from bordering states to work in Kentucky. She said that the Kentucky law had become a national model. She told the committee that the Department of Education has advertised for certified interpreters on its website, because some school districts do not advertise. She said there are 59 people who have been tested and are waiting for certification.
Linda Bozeman, Interim Chairman for the Kentucky Board of Interpreters of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, told the committee that during the 2003 session, persons testified that the certification test was not offered often enough. She said currently there were 207 people working as interpreters with elementary and secondary school students. The licensing board for the interpreters has received 235 applicants. Of this number, 173 meet the minimum standard for licensure. One hundred thirty-six interpreters have taken the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview (SCPI), and 105 have achieved Intermediate Plus or higher status. The eastern region of the state has a significant percentage of individuals yet to achieve minimum standards. Ms. Bozeman said that at least 168 interpreters have been nationally certified. Eastern Kentucky University has a four-year degree and offers an additional one to two years of training. She concluded by saying that efforts are being made to have workshops and training opportunities more available. Also, testing may be scheduled at any time by calling the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville, Kentucky.
Representative Burch asked how many students benefit from this in the school system and asked if interpreters could be used in professions other than education, such as courts. Ms. Bozeman said she could not speak for the Department of Education. She also said that deaf students are difficult to identify because they often have multiple disabilities that are cited instead of deafness. Regarding interpreters working in other settings, only the people who have the SCPI may work in educational settings.
Senator Buford asked what the cost of the test would be for someone from out-of-state and how often the test is given. Ms. Bozeman said if candidates were already certified nationally they would only have to apply for licensure. If they are not certified and are working in the kindergarten through twelfth grade setting, the Department of Education pays the fee for the test, which is given within two weeks of a request at the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville. Dana Parker added that the test to get a full interpreter’s license is given in Frankfort by appointment. A written test is offered twice a year.
Senator Roeding asked if consideration was ever given to teaching children in grade school sign language as a second language. Ms. Parker said that was highly desirable; however, scheduling that class into a curriculum and finding qualified teachers had been difficult.
Barbara Martin, a resident of Louisville who recently moved from California to Kentucky told the committee that she had served on the National Educational Task Force for Educational Interpreters for three years and had been involved in early efforts with educational interpreters in California. She said she found the Kentucky licensure requirements too limited in scope regarding specific settings in the educational environment. She said her goal was to add language to the licensure law that will certify all interpreters due to the many different styles of sign language. She told the committee she supported interpreter regulations and felt it was important to improve the quality of communication in the schools. Ms. Martin said she is the first to apply for licensure under the reciprocity rule and was having problems because the certification board does not recognize her qualifications. She indicated that her form of sign language was preferable to some parents of deaf children.
Senator Boswell asked if there was someone representing the licensure board present who could speak to the committee. Nancy Black said the board had thoroughly reviewed Ms. Martin’s application and credentials and recommended that under the Kentucky guidelines, she accept a temporary license and sit for the national exam. Ms. Black said Ms. Martin wants to appeal the ruling of the board and a hearing has been scheduled.
Next on the agenda Steve Horner, Commissioner of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), told the committee that House Bill 139 had effectively solved the minors-on-premises problem in bars that kept $5,000.00 in food. Department agents had returned to licensed premises and had found no violations. He said that the department had formed two advisory councils, the Industry Advisory Council and the Community Advisory Council, with members comprised of legislative agents who represent the industry and citizen groups interested in alcohol issues, respectively. He said the councils had each had two meetings and were discussing possible legislative changes for the 2004 session. Mr. Horner outlined revisions the department was proposing such as statutory language changes and regulatory licensing and enforcement functions. He said the department wants to amend the laws affecting licensed caterers to correct a disparities in the law. Also, under existing law, the ABC board can revoke or suspend a license for a statutory violation. Currently the licensee can buy out the suspension; however, the board will offer legislation to require the violator to get server’s training.
Senator Boswell said he would like to look at the criteria for training. Mr. Horner said he would bring the information to the committee.
Senator Roeding said he questioned the Executive Order on the Athletic Commission and thought that the new governor should be able to appoint members to that commission. He further stated that he did not understand why the order was done and made a motion not to approve the order.
Senator Boswell said that the executive order would have no impact on the new Governor’s ability to appoint members, that it moved the commission from one cabinet to another and that during the session there would be legislation enacted for the move to take effect.
Representative Butler said this was not an attempt to tie anyone’s hands.
Representative Butler said if there were no other questions the meeting was adjourned.