November 8, 2023
We want to give you an update on where things stand with our efforts to resist the latest attempts to deregulate opticianry in Virginia. As you know, once this attempt became known, we immediately shored up our professional lobbying and advocacy profile to resist and divert deregulation. Our lobbyists have been working diligently behind the scenes on our behalf to educate the appropriate decision-makers within state government on this issue and hopefully persuade them that this is not a prudent course to take. We have been cautiously encouraged by these efforts and continue to follow this course.
We are not yet at a point where we are ready to call for a full-fledged grassroots effort by our members. There are still other avenues being pursued right now and we need to keep grassroots action in reserve until it is needed and will be most effective. We promise to keep you continuously informed as necessary and as events merit. Thank you for your patience and rest assured that we are proactively and effectively working on your behalf!
Protect Our Consumers and Our Profession
This is about YOUR career. OAV has secured lobbyists to help us with this fight. But now we need your help! EVERY OPTICIAN needs to help provide the financial resources to maintain our lobbying representation for this immediate issue and moving forward.The burden should not lie on the shoulders of the few that are volunteering in this effort.
If we have learned nothing else from these situations it is that maintaining a strong legislative fund is no longer optional – We must have ongoing and attentive representation of our profession.
If you are not a member, PLEASE JOIN!
Every penny of your membership fee or donation goes directly to legislative efforts and protection of your career. No one on the board of OAV receives any compensation. This organization is run strictly through volunteers who are passionate for our profession.
If you are unable to join at this time there are multiple options for you to donate whatever you can to the legislative effort.
September 13, 2023
At the last meeting of the Virginia State Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians (HASOPT) on August 16, 2023, the state board staff announced at the end of the meeting that the Youngkin administration plans to introduce legislation during the 2024 General Assembly to deregulate opticians. This is based on a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) recommendation from their 2018 report on the operations of the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).
This is part of Governor Youngkin’s ongoing initiative to eliminate state regulations by 25%. The lingering JLARC recommendation, implementation of which we were successful in defeating during the 2019 General Assembly, now appears to have resurfaced during this greater deregulation effort.
If you are unfamiliar with that JLARC study, here is the direct link to their 2018 report that included opticianry: https://jlarc.virginia.gov/2018-dpor.asp.
Quoting from that report:
There are 11 occupations regulated by DPOR that do not appear to meet the criteria for regulation that are established in the Code of Virginia. These occupations include community managers, opticians, residential energy analysts, soil scientists, waste management facility operators, landscape architects, natural gas automobile mechanics, and others. State statute clearly indicates that the state should not restrict access to any occupation unless it is “necessary for the protection or preservation of the health, safety, and welfare of the public” (§ 54.1-100). These occupations do not meet the criteria, and regulation of these occupations could be reduced or eliminated through legislation.
The allied health profession of opticianry is being grouped with community managers and landscape architects as not meeting the criteria for the necessary “protection or preservation of the health, safety and welfare of the public”! The aspect that makes this even more dire and difficult to defeat than past attacks is that this will not just be a bill proposed by a lone legislator.
If this moves forward as announced, this would be legislation backed by the Governors’ office, as part of the Administration’s 2024 legislative agenda. However, this does not mean it is a foregone conclusion! But it does mean we have to act immediately and try to get ‘opticians’ out of any language in proposed legislation before it becomes law. To that end, the Opticians Association of Virginia is already working hard to secure significant lobbying representation and working with national organizations to prepare the best strategy. We will keep you updated as we fight to protect our profession and the Commonwealth.
We need your help in this critical effort! If you are already a member of the Optician Association of Virginia or if you are not a member and would like to join, visit our new website www.opticiansforvirignia.org to stay informed on this and other issues of importance to the profession.
In addition to that step, we need your help to have the financial resources to secure and maintain lobbying representation for this action and for continued legislative maintenance to make sure that we continue to protect our profession. If we have learned nothing else from this situation, it is that this step is no longer optional – it is a must for the future of Opticians in Virginia to have ongoing and attentive representation of our profession.
We need all opticians ready to assist in person and financially, your state organization is already working with National organizations to secure representation and strategic planning to make sure that we act together and in united front.
Call to Action: In the very near future, we will be calling on you to contact your local state Delegate and state Senator to share your concerns about deregulating opticianry in Virginia. We will develop talking points and an issue paper to assist you when it comes time to make these contacts. It is time to reinforce that opticianry is a health profession and is important for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. This is an election year, so we need to make sure you let them know what is important to their voters! In the meantime, stay alert to future communications from us to share our lobbying strategy and issue action alerts.