News & Views | March 2020

Sunday, March 01, 2020 3:44 PM | Anonymous

Judy Ratliff

The 2020 Virginia Legislative session has seen the passage of some bills beneficial to social work.  These bills passed the House in which they were initiated and went to the other House for reconciliation on February 11, which is known as "Crossover Day."  SB 1046, Clinical social workers: patient records; involuntary detention orders. This bill adds clinical social workers to the list of eligible providers that includes treating physicians and clinical psychologists who can disclose or recommend the withholding of patient records, face a malpractice review panel and provide recommendations on involuntary temporary detention orders.  SB1562, Music Therapy: definition of music therapist, licensure. Requires the Board of Social Work to adopt regulations establishing a regulatory structure to license music therapists in the Commonwealth and establishes an advisory board to assist the Board in this process.  Under the bill, no person shall engage in the practice of music therapy or hold himself out or otherwise represent himself as a music therapist unless he is licensed by the Board.

Another bill that has been proposed is SB53: licensure by endorsement, which requires the Board of Social Work to establish in regulations the requirements for licensure by endorsement as a social worker.  The bill allows the Board to issue licenses to persons licensed to practice social work under the laws of another state, the District of Columbia or a US possession or territory, if in the opinion of the Board, the applicant meets the qualifications required of licensed social workers in the Commonwealth.

Other more general but equally important bills include a bill passed in the House that ends discrimination in housing, accommodations, employment and other forms of discrimination and a bill to extend protections of the hate crime bills to all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

There is also a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15.00, with multi-year step increases. The laws that had been passed in prior years designed to make it more difficult for a woman to have access to an abortion when necessary are being repealed.  Additionally, a number of laws that have made it more difficult and cumbersome to vote have been repealed and the law regarding absentee voting will now enable voters to cast an absentee ballot for any reason, with no restrictions.

The last item of focus in this article is the prospect that I may be leaving my position as Virginia Chair of the Legislation and Advocacy Committee as early as July, 2020.  Thus far, a few students have expressed an interest, but, as students, have had no time to consider even accompanying me to Richmond or Charlotesville to attebd board meetings of the Virginia Society of Clinical Social Work (VSCSW).  If there is no one to fill my position, then we will literally have no voice in how legislation affecting us in Northern Virginia will be shaped.

Yes, it's a lot of work.  Yes, it means driving to Richmond three times a year and Charlotesville once a year. Yes, it's easier for me to do this because I am single and have no family obligations. Yes, you write a quarterly article for the Newsletter.  And, yes, if there is crucial legislation pending, then there are times when there are weekly legislative committee telephone meetings to strategize and plan actions.  Yes, it is a lot of work.  Yet, the rewards are great.  Because of the work done by Margot, Delores and Alice before me, and continued by me (forcefully at times), we now have true joint decision making and an equal voice in how legislation is shaped to include Northern as well as southern Virginia social work and client interests. It would be very sad if this is lost because no one (or two or three) will step up to take over this important work.

I am more than willing to stay on for six months or even a year or more if there is someone or several someones who would be willing to experiment going to meetings with me one or more times to get a sense of the position.  There are some perks.  The Society pays for me to stay in Richmond overnight the night before the meeting and I get the opportunity to eat lunch at and enjoy the exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which I joined. (The exhibits are wonderful and it's a delightful museum.)  I discovered an enclosed Amish market that I pass en route between my home and the meeting in Charlotesville and I always stock up on fresh nuts, pretzels, cheese, eggs and home made fudge before leaving Charlotesville. I have learned a great deal about Virginia's legislative process and have gained a great deal of respect for our lobbyist, Sue Rowland. and the members of the VSCSW Board, and especially Joe Lynch.  I am reaching out to anyone or more than one person to join me on an experimental journey with no commitment.  If there is more than one person, we can figure out how to split responsibilities.  Please give my request some consideration.  

Judy Ratliff, Chair, Virginia Legislation and Advocacy Committee
PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA  22463 | 202-478-7638 |

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