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Bill proposes tweaks to state’s substance abuse treatment licensing requirements

State requirements that force people from their job if substance use problems arise could be on their way out.

Tuesday, the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee laid over HF4301 for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

The bill is largely technical with vetting from the Department of Human Services, said Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood), the bill sponsor. Additionally, it aims to streamline paperwork and address investigation time for a license suspension. 

State law now requires staff members with direct patient care to be free of substance abuse problems for a specified amount of time. This ranges from two years for nurses and drug counselors to six months for support staff.

Occasionally, issues come up among peer counselors or other staff members. Fischer said they would lose their job, under current law. “Instead, this allows for some flexibility, allowing employers to look at the situation: Will we have to remove the person?”

Employers must still have policies in place for what action they’ll take.

Another change would allow a license suspension to go past 90 days if investigations or judicial proceedings are ongoing and there is imminent risk of harm. Some investigations take longer than 90 days, and suspensions must now be lifted even if there are serious charges, Fischer said.

“This allows law enforcement to complete their investigation and at the same time keep the suspension in place to protect those who may be receiving those services,” he said.

The companion, SF3909, is sponsored by Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL-Bloomington) and awaits action by- the Senate Human Services Licensing Policy Committee.

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