February 6, 2019
As of Tuesday, February 5, 2019 both the House and Senate adjourned their floor sessions on what is known as “cross-over” day. That is the day in each General Assembly Session when the House and Senate must complete work on legislation that originates in their respective bodies. Beginning tomorrow (February 6th), the House can only consider Senate bills and the Senate can only consider House bills.
The significance of that milestone for our members is that HB 2099, the bill that would have deregulated the profession of opticianry, was never taken up in the House before cross-over, which means that specific bill is dead for this Session. Last Thursday was the last meeting of the House General Laws Committee before cross-over and HB 2099 was never heard in the Committee.
The chairman of the Committee, Del. Chris Peace, had been very consistent in his communications with our lobbyist that he was opposed to the bill and had no plans to act on the bill in his committee and he kept his word until the end.
While this is a significant victory for our interests, we will continue to monitor any other bills still alive during the 2019 General Assembly that could be candidates for being amended in a way that might adversely impact our profession. Although we do not think this is likely at this point, we will take nothing for granted and stand vigilant to protect the interests of Virginia opticians, as always.
As of right now, there is nothing for you all to do. We will keep our eyes on the process for the rest of the General Assembly and should we need to engage you, we will communicate that with you immediately.
Thank all of you who engaged on this issue earlier during the Session. Your collective voices were heard and you most definitely made the difference! Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions that you may have.
February 1, 2019As of Tuesday, January 29, HB 2099 still has not appeared on any dockets for the House General Laws Committee. Should that change, we will let you know immediately. Our message has been heard and the legislators are well-versed on this issue. Again, should that change and more contacts need to be made, we will notify you immediately.
January 22, 2019
Latest Update On HB2099
HB 2099, which would deregulate the practice of opticianry in Virginia, still resides in the House General Laws Committee. As of yet, it has not yet been heard in the full Committee, nor has it been assigned to a subcommittee.
Our members and the general public have been very effective in communicating with the members of the General Laws Committee. The response has been enthusiastic and overwhelmingly in opposition to the bill. We thank all of you for your efforts in that regard.
The members of the General Laws Committee have repeatedly heard our message loud and clear. Out of respect for their overloaded email in-boxes, we have suspended our general communication campaign. But we are still communicating with legislators on a targeted basis through our lobbyist to keep the issue before them. Should the need arise to reactivate the larger campaign, we will let you know immediately.
HB 2099, if it is to be heard, will be before the House General Laws Committee either later this week or sometime next week. Next week is the last full week of committee meetings before the General Assembly reaches “cross-over” day on Tuesday, February 5. Once HB 2099 is scheduled to be heard, we will notify you immediately. We may ask you to come to Richmond on that day to show your opposition to the bill, but we will give you more details later.
Again, thank you for your overwhelming support so far and your patience as we now work on this issue behind the scenes.
Stayed tuned for further updates!
HB 2099-A Bill to Deregulate
Opticians in Virginia
Yes, a bill to deregulate Opticians in Virginia has been filed.
HB2099 has been filed by Rep. Nicholas Freitas (R-30) that includes deregulation of Opticians as a profession.
Our lobbyist informed us this morning and will have more information available this evening.
We are asking you all to remain calm and wait for our next moves
The Legislative Group and the entire OAV Board of Directors will be meeting this evening to review the next steps as advised by our lobbyist.
This fight is real and we will need the participation of every Licensed Optician in Virginia beginning now!
Please, if you haven’t joined us, do it now!
Fight to protect your profession!
Judy Canty, President
Attention Virginia Opticians
The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC), a Virginia General Assembly policy oversight agency, has officially recommended Opticians be deregulated in Virginia. If this recommendation is adopted by the General Assembly, your License to fit, fabricate, sell and dispense prescription eyewear would no longer be required in the Commonwealth. Unless we all join the fight, deregulation will happen when the General Assembly meets in January 2019!
The Opticians Association of Virginia, the ONLY organization representing Virginia’s 1900 Licensed Opticians, needs you to join the fight to save your license and protect the eyeglass wearing public.
Please take a moment to educate yourself by visiting our website at www.vaopticians.org and reading the JLARC report to the General Assembly and prepare yourselves by following the suggested next steps listed below. Your license depends upon your support.
• Visit the Opticians Association of Virginia website at www.vaopticians.org and provide a valid email address for further updates and calls to action.
• Join the OAV as a member and help support this fight
Find out who your state representatives (Senator & Delegates) are by searching whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov and let us know who represents you. If you have a personal relationship with them and would be willing to contact them on behalf of our profession, please let us know that also. When the time is right, we will be supplying you with information to proactively share with them on this issue.
• If you can contribute beyond your OAV dues any additional help will be appreciated with the expenses of mailings and lobbyist fees. The estimated fee for our lobbyist is $26,000 plus mailings and continuous communications as we would like to keep you all informed and updated.
• Gather support from MD’s, OD’s, Patient’s and share these testimonials with us as soon as possible. At the appropriate time, we may also ask you to share these with your legislators.
You know what it means to be an Optician and understand the value you provide patients when helping them make critical decisions about their visual needs. Take a moment and imagine the results of no required education or supervised training, the inability to evaluate a patient’s history, analyze the new prescription, properly select the appropriate frame and lens design to deliver the prescription necessary. How many of your elderly, young, complex prescriptions or emerging presbyopic patients would suffer?
This fight is not just for your license/livelihood but the visual health and safety of every patient you serve.
If this deregulation is passed the result would be immediate loss of jobs & pay cuts. This would be across the board in retail locations, private practices, wholesale and all facets of the optical industry. This is not the time to think that your position is secure regardless of your tenure. Join us in this fight, get informed, stay informed and be ready to act as necessary.
The OAV is your association and in preparation of defending your license and the visual health and safety of your patients we must act as one. If you are already an OAV member, thank you for your continued support. If you are not a member of the OAV, JOIN NOW and help support this fight. It is vital that you make sure OAV has your updated contact/email for communications, updates and information.
Opticians Association of Virginia Responds To JLARC’S Deregulation Recommendations
TALKING POINTS REGARDING THE PROPOSED DEREGULATION OF VIRGINIA OPTICIANS
1. The Commonwealth licenses and regulates Opticians to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and consumers in Virginia. The laws enacting this regulation and oversight have been in place since 1954. Since that time, technology has increased the available lens options for filling prescriptions more than tenfold, making a licensing process more necessary than ever.
2. An Optician’s scope of practice is more than simply transferring numbers from a doctor’s prescription to an order form. Opticians are specifically educated to accurately evaluate and interpret an eyeglass or contact lens prescription to ensure the patient received the fullest benefit from their eye exam and refraction, based upon many factors, including occupation, sports played, and general lifestyle.
3. Licensing and regulating the practice of Opticianry ensures a minimum level of training and expertise through formal college level or post-secondary education, hands-on experience and examinations covering all aspects of the profession including the manufacturing, fitting and dispensing of eyeglasses and contact lenses.
4. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles places restrictions on visually challenged drivers’ licenses which legally require the driver to wear properly made corrective eyewear or contacts lenses. Opticians are educated and regulated to provide the appropriate eyewear for all restricted visual needs including commercial vehicle operators, pilots, public transportation operators, and both safety and protective eyewear as required by many professions.
5. Children with visual challenges are disadvantaged in classroom and after school activities without proper eyewear. This is especially true for children in low income families. Opticians are educated to inform parents on the necessity of both impact resistant lenses and sports specific eyewear to protect the safety and wellness of their children’s vision.
6. Opticians in Virginia are required to adhere to legislated regulations, therefore, the practice of Opticianry remains independent and outside of any other commercial influence. This independence allows opticians to be advocates for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Happy 2019 everyone!
It’s time for an update on our legislative work to retain our licenses to practice Opticianry in Virginia. While it seems pretty quiet, it really isn’t. Members of the legislative group and our lobbyist have continued to meet with members of JLARC during the holidays. So far, everything has been moving in a positive direction. However, we’re not out of the woods yet.
As you all know, we passed the deadline for pre-filing bills with no specific reference to deregulation and that is a very positive thing. The next deadline is on January 9. All pre-filed bills must be introduced by 10AM on that date. We will be watching that very closely to ensure that nothing affecting our profession appears.
Following that date, the legislative group will meet again with our lobbyists to determine our next steps, focusing on the possibility of deregulation language being added to currently introduced bills. That possibility is real and continues to be our focus.
Why have we been so quiet? Well, many discussions regarding legislation are carried on quietly. No flag-waving. No marches. No protests. We are keeping the communication channels open, courteous and friendly.
What should you as Licensed Opticians do? Stay focused on representing your profession to your patients and to your employers. Talk about why your license is important and your place in the healthcare industry.
We must remain a united front. We must continue to grow our membership and support within the community at large.
This will not be the only time we encounter this threat. As the industry changes, more challenges will arise and OAV needs to be ready to meet them when they do.
Please look for another update following our next meeting with our lobbyists.
Judy Canty, LDO
President, Opticians Association of Virginia