STAND. COM. REP. NO.2586
RE: S.B. No. 251
Honorable Robert Bunda
President of the Senate
Twenty-First State Legislature
Regular Session of 2002
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Ways and Means, to which was referred S.B. No. 251, S.D. 1, entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose of this measure is to establish a professional counselor licensing program.
Your Committee finds that providing for the licensing of professional counselors is critically important, since many who seek counseling are vulnerable and need protection from unskilled, untrained, and ill-prepared practitioners. At present, masters and doctoral level counselors are unregulated in Hawaii, and there are no special safeguards in place to assure consumers of the quality of service they are receiving.
Your Committee notes that in 1998, the United States Congress passed legislation to include professional counselors in United States Public Health Service Act programs. The federal government now recognizes professional counseling as one of the core helping professions along with psychiatry, psychology, psychiatric nursing, social work, and marriage and family therapy.
In addition, your Committee finds that forty-seven states and the District of Columbia already have licensure laws, and two other states are close to passing theirs. Therefore, Hawaii will be the only state in the nation that does not license its mental health professional counselors.
Your Committee finds that establishing educational and experiential standards for professional counselors and requiring their licensure will afford greater protection to the public by providing consistent and accountable standards of practice.
Upon further consideration, your Committee has amended this bill by:
(1) Replacing the sum appropriated with a blank amount to facilitate further discussion on the funding necessary to carry out the purposes of this measure; and
(2) Making technical, nonsubstantive changes for the purposes of clarity and consistency.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Ways and Means that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 251, S.D. 1, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Third Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 251, S.D. 2.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Ways and Means,
BRIAN T. TANIGUCHI, Chair