CDA has been engaged on multiple legislative issues at the state Capitol in Sacramento. Here are a few of the recent issues CDA worked on before the Legislature adjourned for a one month recess. It will reconvene Aug. 4 for work on bills before final adjournment at the end of the month.
Sexual Misconduct Regulations: The Dental Board of California approved regulations at a hearing in May that would prohibit a decision issued by an administrative law judge that a licensee engaged in sexual misconduct from staying license revocation, or placing the licensee on probation. Previously, the judge could recommend license revocation and stay the revocation. As has always been the case, the Board retains the final disciplinary authority. This change, which originated from the Senate Business and Professions Committee, makes Dental Board disciplinary action consistent with what most healing arts boards have adopted.
CDA supported this regulatory change but in its analysis of the proposal it came to light that there is a lack of clarity in the law on the definition of sexual misconduct as it relates to dentists treating their spouses or domestic partners. While CDA is not aware of the law ever being enforced in a way that would lead to disciplinary action for a dentist who treated his or her spouse, CDA submitted comments to the Board expressing the need to clarify that dentists’ spouses and domestic partners should be exempt from the statutory definition of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, the Board did not take action on this and it will need to be addressed through legislation. CDA is pursuing a legislative solution before the Legislature adjourns at the end of August to ensure the law is explicit that a dentist providing care to a spouse does not qualify as sexual misconduct.
Sugary Beverage Labeling: SB 1000, introduced by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) to require a warning label on sugary beverages indicating that “drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay,” failed to advance at a hearing of the Assembly Health Committee in June and will not move forward this year.
While the bill passed in the Senate earlier in the year, opponents continued to express concerns about whether the proposed label would reduce consumption, whether it was appropriate to label these beverages but not other sugary products and the financial impact on the industry, which ultimately prevented the bill from getting the support it needed to advance in the Assembly. CDA was joined by dozens of health and education organizations in support of the bill and there will continue to be a spotlight on this issue in the years ahead.
Proposition 65 Warnings: CDA submitted comments in June to the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) as it considers a Proposition 65 regulatory reform package that could require changes to Prop. 65 warning signs. (Prop. 65 requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide “clear and reasonable warning” if a product or business location may expose employees or customers to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.) OEHHA’s initial proposal for revised warning signs for all businesses included listing up to 12 chemicals OEHHA has identified as the most harmful and a website address for more information on the chemicals.
CDA is working to ensure that any changes to warning requirements be appropriate for dentistry. We have proposed simplified language for warnings in dental offices in the event dentists are required to change their warning signs. Also, because CDA is in a unique position to track the chemicals commonly found in a dental office, we have recommended that CDA be able to provide the information necessary for the state’s website, rather than dentists having to monitor and submit this information individually. OEHHA’s regulatory process should conclude by the end of 2015.
Establishment of a State Dental Director: Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 2014-15 state budget, which includes funding for a new state dental director position in addition to an epidemiologist. The dental director must be a licensed dentist. The budget provides $474,000 in funding for the first year to assess oral health needs in the state, develop and manage a state oral health plan and apply for and manage federal and private grants to support oral health. CDA made the establishment of a state dental director a top priority of its access to care plan, Phased Strategies for Reducing the Barriers to Dental Care in California. The report was developed in 2011 as a comprehensive strategic approach to reducing barriers to oral health care for vulnerable Californians. CDA is committed to work with the state as the recruitment and hiring process begins immediately for a state dental director and an epidemiologist.