Michigan mental-health counselors applaud unanimous, bi-partisan support as licensing bill signed into law
LANSING, Mich., October 29, 2019 – Michigan mental health counselors applauded as House Bill 4325 sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) was signed into law today by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Now Public Act 96 of 2019, the new law ensures Michigan’s licensed professional counselors (LPCs) can continue to provide treatment to hundreds of thousands of residents in need.
“This new law will ensure that more than 150,000 Michiganders can still access critical mental health care,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “And it will protect 10,000 professional counselors from losing the ability to practice as they currently do. We must continue to work hard to ensure every Michigander has access to critical mental health care, and this is a step in the right direction.”
According to the Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA), the passage of HB 4325 was a critical priority for counselors across the state as the legislation negated rule changes formally proposed by the Department of Licensing and Regulation (LARA) this summer. Those changes would have effectively prohibited Michigan’s counselors from practicing.
“Michigan, like many other states, has a mental health crisis. There simply aren’t enough counselors and other mental health professionals to meet the growing demand for services,” said MMHCA Executive Director Jim Blundo. “Rep. Miller’s common-sense legislation provided a solution to the state’s concerns that avoided causing harm to the counseling profession and those in need of mental health treatment.”
MMHCA led the statewide grassroots advocacy efforts on HB 4325 that included thousands of emails, calls and social media contacts with state legislators and a 1,500-person rally at the rules public hearing. Several hundred LPCs also spoke out at the legislative committee hearings and attended House and Senate session votes on the bill. The well-coordinated effort is credited for the legislation’s swift and unanimous bipartisan approval in both the state House and Senate.
“LPCs are the frontline of mental health care in our state and their passion for what they do led them to the front line of advocacy on this issue,” said Rep. Miller. “Along the way they become a very powerful voice and demonstrated to Lansing, our state and our country how grassroots advocacy is done.”