By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu issued a deadline and a threat to the Board of Mental Health Practice, giving it one month to file a rulemaking proposal to help address a shortage of licensed mental health providers in the state or face termination.
In a July 27 letter to the chairman of the board, Samuel Rosario, LICSW, Sununu noted the board has had two years since he signed House Bill 143 into law, requiring it to adopt rules to implement several new license types, and they have yet to act. Sununu released the letter in a press release Tuesday. A copy of the governor’s letter can be found here.
Both Sununu and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington of Concord, who is a Democratic candidate for governor, pressed state officials at the last July 19 council meeting on the need to get going on promulgating the law so that licensed social work associates can add to New Hampshire’s workforce.
The matter was presented by Warmington to Lindsey Courtney, who is executive director of the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensing and Certification at the meeting held in Dover.
Warmington explained that the law has changed to allow for a streamlined process for a Licensed Social Work Associate. It covers conditional licenses for clinical social workers, mental health workers, and marriage and family therapists.
Warmington said: “The rules have not been promulgated to actually allow that to happen, despite the fact that the statute exists. So that is limiting our mental health workforce.”
She accused the board of obstructing the legislature’s actions.
Courtney said the OPLC has sent the message but noted “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink.”
Warmington said somebody in government needs to get to the Board.
“The message needs to be clear,” said Sununu. “Either they move on the rules, and we are trying to be fair…It’s July. They either move or this council will have them all removed. Absolutely. We’ll have discussion with every single one them and we will bring them before us, because this is the body that can absolutely do that. So they either do their job or we’ll find someone who will do that for them.”
Courtney said at the council meeting: “I will certainly pass along that message, governor.”
The Governor and Executive Council meet again Wednesday.
The governor’s letter contains a threat:
“I am directing the Board to take all steps necessary to file a rulemaking proposal implementing HB 143 no later than Sept. 1, 2023. I have also directed Executive Director Courtney to provide necessary rulemaking support. If the Board is unwilling or incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities, I will take necessary steps pursuant to RSA 4:1 to ensure that the Board is comprised of individuals who are so capable,” Sununu wrote.
Attempts to reach the OPLC’s office and Samuel Rosario, who is listed as the chair, were unsuccessful.