State Beat: Compact bills fail in South Dakota and Arizona

Licensed professional associations successfully oppose growing trend of deregulation.

By Hannah Calkins

Separate efforts to create multistate licensing compacts have failed in South Dakota and Arizona, signaling that associations of licensed professionals can be effective in opposing what appears to be a national trend toward deregulation.

South Dakota’s House Bill 1319 and Arizona’s Senate Bill 1184 would have enabled professional licensees — including psychologists — to expeditiously obtain temporary licensure in reciprocating states.

Licensing compacts like these may have some benefits, such as affording psychologists greater professional mobility and easing provider shortages in rural areas. But in both South Dakota and Arizona, there was concern that the legislation was too broad and collapsed licensed occupations with licensed professions, said Deborah Baker, JD, director of legal and regulatory policy in APA’s Practice Directorate.

“As a result, this legislation did not adequately take into account the issues related to professional practice for certain licensed disciplines, in particular the licensed health care professions,” Baker said.

The bills, which contained similar text, disadvantaged psychologists in several ways. For one, if implemented, state psychological boards would have had to prioritize quickly issuing temporary licenses to out-of-state providers over residents applying for permanent licensure.

But more significantly, the bills failed to consider differing requirements for licensure — or conflicting laws governing practice — between states. They also failed to address whether mandatory abuse reporting requirements would extend to temporarily licensed out-of-state providers. And they did not include sufficient information about the obligation or process by which the states must share disciplinary information about licensees, Baker said.

Additionally, the compacts would have superseded the temporary practice provisions of ASPBB’s Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT). PSYPACT, which APA and the APA Practice Organization support, is a compact meant to facilitate telehealth and temporary psychology practice across state lines. The compact will become operational once seven states enact PSYPACT legislation. To date, three states have done so.

SPTAs organize and respond

Psychologists in South Dakota and Arizona weren’t the only licensed professionals concerned about these proposals. In fact, a cross section of various licensed professions successfully mobilized to challenge this legislation. 

In a press conference on March 1, South Dakota's Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard blamed unspecified “professional associations” for the failure of the bill, and the situation was similar in in Arizona, said Phil Barry, PhD, ABN, who is chair of the Arizona Psychological Association (AzPA) state legislative committee.

“We got lucky this time, but the bill’s sponsor has indicated that he plans to reintroduce a similar bill for the next session,” Barry said.

While AzPA opposed the original bill — and will lobby for any future bills to exclude psychologists — the South Dakota Psychological Association (SDPA) chose not to publicly oppose the bill there, said Mark Perrenoud, PhD, past president of SDPA. SDPA instead is saving up its political capital to pursue getting support to introduce PSYPACT legislation next year.

Still, psychologists in South Dakota are “probably fortunate” that the compact bill was defeated, he said.

Baker anticipates that bills like these will be introduced with some frequency in the coming years, particularly in states focused on eliminating perceived regulatory burdens. However, the success of other professional associations in Arizona and South Dakota suggests that state psychological associations may also be effective in persuading legislators to exclude psychologists from these efforts.