Past Legislative & Regulatory Issues
Louisiana's 2021 Legislative Session
As the 2021 Legislative Year comes to an end, I felt it was appropriate to reach out to our members and disseminate information on the work LOTA is doing, not only for its members, but the entire Louisiana occupational therapy community. Many times I have personally felt like this work is “behind the scenes,” and I am doing my best to make sure that this perception changes.
First and foremost, I need to recognize and thank our Legislative Committee Members who helped out during this 2021 Legislative Session:Angelle Brown, Debbie Bueche, Paul Fontana, Emily Greene, Elise Kelone, Danielle Keyser, Susan LaFleur, Judd Patterson, and Jennifer Perodeau(alphabetical :) ).These people took the time to read and review bills prior to the start of the legislative session. Out of thousands of bills submitted, there were 11 bills in total that LOTA reviewed and took a stance on.
HB 531 was one in particular that required intervention from the LOTA Legislative Committee. Committee members discussed the matter via email and Zoom Conference Calls. Danielle Keyser was instrumental in reaching out to our APTA-LA partners who also took a stance and participated in reviewing and editing this bill. Our lobbyistKevin Hayeshelped us communicate with the author of the bill, Thomas Pressly (R, District 6), who was receptive to our changes. This was an interdisciplinary feat! While we are still awaiting the results of the votes in chambers, we are confident that no further issues should arrive.
Legislation Day was held on June 3, 2021. Occupational therapy practitioners as well as former clients stood in the State Capitol Rotunda to advocate for proposed bills that affect our profession and the community we serve. It is also a time for people to share their stories of what occupational therapy means to them. It is inspiring to see strangers' faces light up when they recognize who we are! We heard the painful stories of accidents and diseases that forever changed individuals’ lives. To see these resilient people out in the community again and praising the work of occupational therapists is truly re-energizing. I left the capital that day proud of our profession and the hard work of its members.
Legislation Day couldn’t have happened without the help of our lobbyistKevin Hayes. It was he who submitted the proposed date for our legislation day. He also submitted LOTA to receive a resolution designating June 3, 2021 as LOTA Day, as well as introducing us in the House of Representatives’ Chambers. Kevin Hayes is the reason we can communicate with congress people, set up meetings with them, and effect legislation. He takes time out of his busy schedule to attend local LOTA district meetings to discuss pertinent issues. On the actual day of our Legislation Day event, he is courteous and makes sure that we meet and hand-shake with important congress people.
Though our numbers are small, we make a big impact on Capital Hill. This year, we set up an interactive booth filled with gross motor, sensory, and fine motor activities. We also demonstrated the use of typical self-care adaptive equipment. We met influential Louisianians such as Larry Bagley (R, District 7), Rick Edmonds (R, District 66), and Miss LSU-USA. LOTA presented 144 gifts to each member of Congress (39 senators and 105 representatives). This year our gift was sponsored by Swamp Dragon: a local Baton Rouge hot sauce. Each member of congress received a 1 oz hot sauce bottle with a sticker that said “OT puts the SPICE in life”. The bottle was also packaged with a short “cheat sheet” of the benefits of occupational therapy.
Despite the way this year began, LOTA has ended this year’s legislative session on a positive note. We have some great new ideas for the coming year and we are hopeful for the future! I would also like to take this time to mention, if this has inspired you, please reach out to me. We are always looking for new committee members and new ideas!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for being amazing occupational therapy practitioners. Thank you for making this profession worth fighting for!
All the best,
Sam Francioni MS, LOTR
LOTA Legislative Chair