1999 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Representative Bowles
House Bill 1204
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 73-19-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO RECONSTITUTE THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE STATE BOARD OF OPTOMETRY; TO PROVIDE FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF BOARD MEMBERS FROM SUPREME COURT DISTRICTS AND TO PROVIDE FOR AT-LARGE MEMBERS; TO REQUIRE THAT FOUR MEMBERS BE OPTOMETRISTS AND ONE MEMBER BE A CONSUMER REPRESENTATIVE; TO AMEND SECTION 73-19-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THAT OPTOMETRY EXAMINATIONS BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH STANDARDS OF THE COUNCIL ON LICENSURE, ENFORCEMENT AND REGULATION, AFFILIATION WITH THE COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 73-19-39 AND 73-19-41, TO AUTHORIZE INVESTIGATORS OF THE BOARD TO RECOMMEND TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF AN OPTOMETRIST'S LICENSE WHEN THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIRE SUCH; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD TO MAKE THOSE SUSPENSIONS WHEN IT DETERMINES THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIRE SUCH; TO AMEND SECTION 73-19-105, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE BOARD DEVELOP A TEST MEASURING THE COMPETENCY OF CANDIDATES FOR CERTIFICATION TO USE DIAGNOSTIC PHARMACEUTICAL AGENTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 73-19-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-19-7. (1) The State Board of Optometry is reconstituted and continued as follows: The Governor with advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint to the State Board of Optometry four (4) nonmedical persons who have been actively engaged in the practice of optometry immediately preceding their appointment to the board, and one (1) consumer representative. One (1) optometrist member shall be appointed from each of the State Supreme Court Districts, and one (1) optometrist member and one (1) consumer member shall be appointed from the state-at-large. There shall be no more than two (2) members from any one (1) Supreme Court District. The initial terms of the members appointed from the Supreme Court districts shall be as follows: The term of member from the First Supreme Court District shall expire on June 30, 2000; the term of the member from the Second Supreme Court District shall expire on June 30, 2001; the term of the member from the Third Supreme Court District shall expire on June 30, 2002. The optometrist member appointed from the state-at-large shall have an initial term that expires on June 30, 2003. The consumer representative shall have an initial term that expires on June 30, 2004. After the expiration of the initial terms, all members shall have terms of office of five (5) years from the expiration date of the previous term. No member of the board shall be a stockholder in or a faculty member or member of the board of trustees of a school of optometry. No member shall be legible to serve more than two (2) five-year terms.
(2) All initial and subsequent appointments of optometrist members shall be selected from a list submitted by the Mississippi Optometric Association. For each appointment there shall be three (3) names submitted by the association. If the association does not submit a list of names, the Governor may appoint any member in good standing of the Mississippi Optometric Association to the board. The consumer member shall be a qualified elector of the state and shall be a good moral character. The board shall insure that the consumer member receives an orientation to the practice of optometry within the first three (3) months of the member's joining the board.
SECTION 2. Section 73-19-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-19-17. Any person over the age of twenty-one (21) years, of good moral character, and who has graduated from a high school or preparatory school affiliated with and recognized by a state university, and who has graduated from a reputable school or college of optometry, shall be entitled to stand the examination for license to practice optometry in Mississippi. The examining Board of Optometry shall keep on file a list of schools or colleges of optometry which are recognized by the board. Examinations shall test the professional competency of candidates for licensure. All examinations shall be developed in compliance with the professional testing standards developed by the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation, affiliated with the Council of State Governments. The State Board of Optometry shall not examine or certify any optometrist in any therapeutic procedures unless the optometrist has successfully completed the proper didactic education and supervised clinical training taught by an institution accredited by a regional or professional accreditation organization that is recognized or approved by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation of the United States Department of Education, or its successor, and approved by the State Board of Optometry with the advice and consultation of the designated members of the State Board of Medical Licensure and the State Board of Pharmacy.
SECTION 3. Section 73-19-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-19-39. After completion of his investigation, the board investigator shall make a report of his findings and recommendations to the member of the board designated to investigate the matter. The investigator may recommend to the board that the license of any optometrist may be suspended before a hearing if the investigator has clear, competent and unequivocal evidence that the optometrist's continuation in practice would constitute a danger to the health and safety of the public. After receipt of the investigator's report, the board member shall take the following action:
(a) If upon review of the complaint, board investigator's report and any written response by the accused optometrist, the board member determines that there is not reasonable ground to believe that the accused optometrist has been guilty of unprofessional conduct or conduct evincing unfitness for the practice of optometry, the board member shall present his findings and recommendations to the board at the next regular board meeting. The board may dismiss the complaint or may prepare a formal complaint against the licensee as provided in Section 73-19-41. In the event of dismissal, the person filing the complaint and the accused optometrist shall be given written notice of the board's determination.
(b) If the board member determines there is reasonable cause to believe the accused optometrist is guilty of such conduct, which, if proven, would warrant suspension for a definite or an indefinite period or license revocation, the board member shall request the board to prepare and file a formal complaint against the accused optometrist. The board may dismiss the complaint or may prepare a formal complaint against the licensee as provided in Section 73-19-41. In the event of a dismissal, the person filing the complaint and the accused optometrist shall be given written notice of the board's determination.
SECTION 4. Section 73-19-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
73-19-41. (1) The board shall fix a time and place for any formal complaint hearing and shall cause a written notice specifying the offense or offenses for which the licensee is charged and notice of the time and place of the hearing to be served upon the licensee at least twenty (20) days prior to the hearing date. Such notice may be served by mailing a copy thereof by certified mail, postage prepaid, to the last known residence or business address of the licensee.
(2) The board may temporarily suspend the license of any optometrist without a hearing, simultaneously with the institution of proceedings for a hearing under this section, if it finds that the evidence in support of the investigator's determination of the need for the suspension is clear, competent and unequivocal, and that the optometrist's continuation in practice would constitute an imminent danger to the public health and safety. Any optometrist whose license is suspended before a hearing may be entitled to receive a full hearing before the board on the temporary suspension not more than seven (7) days after the board imposes temporary suspension of the optometrist's license. At the optometrist's request, the hearing may occur after the seven-day period.
(3) The board is * * * authorized and empowered to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers at such hearing. Process issued by the board shall extend to all parts of the state and shall be served by any person designated by the board for such service.
(4) The accused shall have the right to appear either personally or by counsel or both to produce witnesses or evidence in his behalf, to cross-examine witnesses and to have subpoenas issued by the board.
(5) At the hearing, the board shall administer oaths as may be necessary for the proper conduct of the hearing. All hearings shall be conducted by the board, with the exception of the investigating board member who shall not participate in the hearing. The board shall not be bound by strict rules of procedure or by the laws of evidence in the conduct of its proceedings, but the determination shall be based upon sufficient evidence to sustain it. All proceedings shall be transcribed by a court reporter.
(6) Where, in any proceeding before the board, any witness fails or refuses to attend upon a subpoena issued by the board, refuses to testify, or refuses to produce any books and papers the production of which is called for by a subpoena, the attendance of such witness, the giving of his testimony or the production of the books and papers shall be enforced by any court of competent jurisdiction of this state in the manner provided for the enforcement of attendance and testimony of witnesses in civil cases in the courts of this state.
(7) The board shall, within sixty (60) days after conclusion of the hearing, reduce its decision to writing and forward an attested true copy thereof to the last known residence or business address of such licensee by way of United States first class, certified mail, postage prepaid.
SECTION 5. Section 73-19-105, Mississippi Code of 1972, is reenacted as follows:
73-19-105. (1) Before any optometrist or any applicant for a license to practice optometry may be certified to use diagnostic pharmaceutical agents as authorized in Section 73-19-103, he shall submit satisfactory evidence to the State Board of Optometry that he has successfully completed a course or courses in pharmacology as they apply to optometry, with particular emphasis on the topical application of diagnostic pharmaceutical agents to the eye, and any additional educational requirements prescribed by the State Board of Optometry with the advice and consultation of the designated members of the State Board of Medical Licensure and the State Board of Pharmacy. Such course or courses in pharmacology and any additional educational requirements prescribed shall be completed at an institution accredited by a regional professional accreditation organization that is recognized or approved by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation or the United States Department of Education or its successors and approved by the State Board of Optometry with the advice and consultation of the designated members of the State Board of Medical Licensure and the State Board of Pharmacy.
(2) Upon the successful completion of all specified educational requirements, any optometrist or any applicant for a license to practice optometry who desires certification to use diagnostic pharmaceutical agents as authorized in Section 73-19-103 shall satisfactorily pass an examination administered by the State Board of Optometry. * * *
(3) The additional educational requirements necessary to become certified to use diagnostic pharmaceutical agents may be completed simultaneously with the educational requirements necessary to become licensed to practice optometry or may be completed after the person is licensed to practice optometry. Any applicant for a license to practice optometry who has met the additional educational requirements for certification to use diagnostic pharmaceutical agents may take the examination to become licensed to practice optometry and the examination to become certified to use diagnostic pharmaceutical agents at the same time.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1999.