Counselor Bill Flies Through Senate Without Debate

A bill that would maintain the scope of practice for licensed professional counselors and block controversial rules being promulgated by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is headed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s desk after breezing through the Senate unanimously Thursday.

Movement on HB 4325 began in response to rules being promulgated by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The proposed rules would remove the ability for counselors to diagnose and offer psychotherapy.

LARA officials have said they need to begin existing rules into line with current statute, which does not allow those practices by counselors even though counselors have been doing so since they became a licensed profession in 1989. HB 4325 would clarify that counselors can continue to diagnose and offer psychotherapy.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 38-0 in favor of the bill, which was quickly messaged to the House and enrolled.

Supporters of HB 4325 packed the Senate gallery prior to session Thursday. Before the chamber began working through its agenda, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist welcomed the crowd while also providing a reminder of Senate rules prohibiting loud demonstrations in support or opposition to legislative action. A similar crowd had gathered in the House gallery when it passed the bill last week and cheered after the bill’s passage.

The crowd in the gallery heeded the Lt. Governor’s words, although a smattering of cheers could be heard coming from the hallway outside of the Senate chamber following the vote.

Ms. Whitmer spoke briefly about the bill to reporters Thursday following an event she was attending.

“Obviously we are actively working with the Legislature to make sure that any concerns in the administration are addressed. It’s I think a bill that was necessitated because of a long overdue policy change at LARA,” Ms. Whitmer said. “This was something that I think we can make some good changes to and hopefully get something to my desk that I’ll sign.”

Following the vote, the group in support of the legislation celebrated on the Capitol steps, posing for group photos and cheering words of encouragement from the bill sponsor Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) and others.

The group briefly chanted “sign the bill” from the Capitol steps.

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