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Legislative Update

Insight 4th quarter 2017
Legislative Report

Greetings Fellow Optometrists,

I confess, September was a much more memorable month then even I could have ever predicted. Initially, it marked the beginning of legislative committee weeks prior to the formal 2018 Florida Legislative Session. However, many of us abruptly suffered losses to our businesses and homes as a result of repetitive tropical storms and subsequently, Hurricane Irma. Our friends in Texas, Louisiana, and especially Puerto Rico, suffered tremendously as well. My best wishes and thoughts go out to everyone still working to rebuild their property, and their practice, and recover their lives subsequent to nature acting out using some of its worst behavior. On the brighter side, the FOA and AOA have programs available to assist us financially in the recovery of our disaster related economic losses. AND Federally, President Trump signed a new Disaster Relief measure on 9/29/2017. The measure allows homeowners to deduct capital losses (with a $500.00 deductible) on their tax returns for 2017, or by amending 2016 to claim the loss now!

Now, back to the Florida Legislative update. The Florida Legislature has spent the last few weeks working on the state‚Äôs infrastructure and implementing a financial shift to get our state back to a more normal post-storm recovery status. Prior to September, initial predictions showed a 55 million dollar Florida budget surplus. However my guess is that we are now facing a 50 million dollar budget deficiency in terms of disaster recovery and relief. As such, our legislators have been focused on recovery issues and will most likely not entertain much in the way of other legislative issues until the November or December committee weeks.

Meanwhile, a bill to repair the broken process used to obtain a license to practice optometry in Florida (SB 520) has been filed in the Senate by Senator Jack Latvala. This bill will be modified from its current form to statutorily allow a 36 month look back period for candidates who took the National Board Exams prior to applying for a license to practice optometry in Florida. As many of you are aware, the "7 year Rule" look back period was stuck down subsequent to a legal challenge brought forth on behalf of two out of state optometrists seeking a variance from taking a test to gain licensure in Florida. SB 520 will create a fair and streamlined process to allow candidates to qualify for licensure in Florida free from undue constraints.

Lastly, legislative language to allow opticians to refract has been presented to the FOA in outline form. The FOA Board is currently reviewing this language and will keep you posted of its progress. Telemedicine and online refraction loom on the legislative horizon as well.

However, in spite of all these issues, I feel very positive toward our profession, the current state of our 2018 legislative engagement, and our potential legislative outcomes. FOA takes nothing for granted. FOA will forge ahead and work tirelessly to protect the rights of our patients, no matter what storm attempts to get in our way.  

 

Sincerely,

 

Kenneth W. Lawson OD

FOA Legislative Chair 

 

 

 

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