From the State House New Service - July 15, 2021


With only one of the two branches of the Legislature weighing in within its allotted time, Gov. Charlie Baker's plan to transfer 13 health-related licensing boards and the 88,000 licenses they oversee from the Division of Professional Licensure to the Department of Public Health took effect on its own this past weekend.  The  changes also includes the renaming of the Division of Professional Licensure as the Division of Occupational Licensure.

The Senate on Thursday adopted Baker's reorganization plan (H 3774), which was filed under Article 87 of the Constitution, but the House did not take the matter up before adjourning until Monday morning.

Under Article 87, executive branch reorganizations require a legislative hearing within 30 days of being filed and a committee vote within 10 days of the hearing, deadlines the Legislature met with this latest plan. The legislative branch is given 60 days from when the reorganization is filed -- May 19 in this case -- to take an up-or-down vote, without amendment, on the plan. If the Legislature does not act, the action takes effect.

By the time the House returns to order on July 19, the 60-day window to consider Article 87 reorganization plans will have closed and the governor's plan will have taken effect. Sunday is the 60th full day after the governor filed his reorganization plan.

The licensing boards that will be transferred under the governor's plan include allied health; allied mental health; chiropractors; dietitians and nutritionists; dispensing opticians; hearing instrument specialists; podiatry; optometry; psychologists; social workers; speech pathology and audiology; health officers; and sanitarians. That would leave the Division of Professional Licensure with about 492,000 licenses to oversee and would streamline things for applicants, license holders, the public and state regulators, DPL Commissioner Layla D'Emilia told the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee during a hearing on the governor's proposal in June.

At least two of Baker's previous Article 87 reorganizations -- the 2017 plan that eliminated the Department of Public Safety and established a new Office of Public Safety and Inspections housed within the DPL, and the 2017 creation of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security -- also took effect after the Legislature declined to act on the proposals within the given 60 days.