Take Action New Jersey! OPPOSE Dietitian Nutritionist Licensing Bill, A1582

Take Action New Jersey!  OPPOSE Dietitian Nutritionist Licensing Bill, A1582, to Protect Free Speech and Access to Complementary and Alternative Health Practitioners NOW!

Our colleagues on the ground in New Jersey are warning us that the restrictive dietitian licensing bill, A1582, is on the fast track to be passed in the Senate after it passed the NJ Assembly (55-19-3) back on June 20.  Please Take Action now to prevent it from getting a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee and becoming law!  Despite the bill’s rewrites (new language eliminates the most onerous restrictions on your health freedom rights, details below, found in the introduced version), AB 1582 is still far from acceptable.  Read the rewritten, “substitute” version of, AB 1582 here.  

Please take a moment to let your legislators know that you oppose licensing bills that inhibit a health practitioner’s free speech rights to advertise and accurately describe their nutrition-related services and training. Take Action and complete the other action steps below, to protect freedom of speech and freedom to access the New Jersey complementary and alternative health care practitioners of your choice.  

What Does the NJ licensing bill, A1582, Do? 

A1582 attempts to license or put out of business all health care practitioners who use nutrition in the delivery of their services and will have a negative impact on consumer access to the services and practitioners of their choice.  The rewritten bill language is summarized, in part, below. 

Pros of the rewrite: (1) The prohibited practices section of the bill was significantly narrowed; now “medical nutrition therapy”, as defined, is the only service, within the broad definition of practice, specifically limited to license-holders; and (2) a broad exemption was added to the exemption section; now the bill no longer prohibits non-license-holders from: “providing nutrition information, guidance, encouragement, individualized nutrition recommendations, or weight control services that do not constitute medical nutrition therapy … provided that the individual does not hold himself or herself out as a licensed dietitian nutritionist or licensed nutritionist.” A1582, Section 8(7). 

Cons of the rewrite: The title protection language remains and goes way beyond what’s necessary to prevent misrepresentation.  Section 13 of A1582 prohibits common titles such as “nutrition counselor,” “nutrition consultant,” “nutrition specialist,” “nutritional therapy practitioner,” and “nutritional therapy consultant” by anyone without a license; instead of simply prohibiting the titles “licensed dietitian” or “licensed nutritionist” by the non-licensed.  Additionally, the title ban applies to “any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, or insignia indicating that one is licensed for the practice of dietetics and nutrition … unless licensed”.  

Why Does NHFA Oppose A1582?

The free speech restrictions in Section 13 make it impossible, or at least impractical, for a regular citizen or a complementary or alternative health care  practitioner who does not hold a conventional state dietitian license to use titles or to advertise his/her services that have to do with nutrition or accurately describe his/her education to clients and potential clients.  By not allowing persons or business entities to use titles prohibited by AB 1582, the bill prohibits free speech and undermines any exercise of the freedoms supposedly restored to the public by the newly added exemption (discussed above). 

NHFA supports transparency to the public and does not object to protection of the titles “licensed dietitian” or “licensed nutritionist” or of registered dietitians having exclusive use of the “RD” designation.  

NHFA does however oppose extending title exclusivity to include titles that relate to services that can be freely practiced in the public domain by non-license holders.  If a non-license holder is permitted to do things a license-holder can do, how can he/she notify the public about his/her services if it becomes illegal to use titles or mention them?  The breadth of the title protection for license-holders will have a chilling-effect on non-licensed practitioners and, in turn, limit the ability of citizens to find out about and utilize their services.  Please Take Action to keep these titles in the public domain.

 What you can do (in 15 minutes or less):

1. Click Here to Enter Your Address to send a message of opposition on A1582 to your personal legislators in the NJ Senate.  Please add a brief personal note to have a greater impact with the legislators.  

2. Call Each Member of the Commerce Committee to Ask them to not schedule A1582 for a hearing. Leave a brief message of opposition with the staff at the office of each of the 5 members on the committee. Simply say you oppose restrictions on the ability of complementary and alternative practitioners to use titles that accurately describe their services and training. And that A1582, even as rewritten, infringes on the rights of New Jersey citizens. Member contact info is listed below the following example message.

Example message for Committee Members:

“My name is [Your Name]. I live in [Your City], New Jersey. I’m calling to ask Senator [Last Name, e.g., Pou] to oppose a hearing on A1582 in the Commerce committee and to vote “no” on this restrictive Dietitian Licensing bill if it is scheduled. There is no proof of harm being done to New Jersey citizens without the free speech restrictions proposed by A1582. Please tell Commerce committee member [Last Name] that I want [him/her] to oppose A1582. Thank you.” 

5 Senate Commerce Committee Members to Call:

  • Pou, Nellie (Chair, Dem., Leg. Dist. 35): (973) 247-1555 
  • Cryan, Joseph P. (Vice-Chair, Dem., LD 20): (908) 624-0880 or 327-9119 
  • Cardinale, Gerald (Rep., LD 39): (201) 567-2324 or (862) 248-0491
  • Kean, Thomas H. (Republican Leadership, LD 1): (908) 232-3673 or 918-0414 
  • Scutari, Nicholas P. (Dem. Majority Leader, LD 22): (908) 587-0404

3. Prepare Testimony in Advance of Possible Hearing on A1582. Written and oral testimony is crucial to the legislative process and a great way to participate in your representative government! Since the Senate Commerce Committee could schedule A1582 at any time, and with little advance notice, we encourage you to prepare now. Taking the time to consider and articulate your beliefs is a great exercise – even if a hearing is never scheduled on A1582 (fingers-crossed). Try honing in on what you’d want your NJ legislators to know about how A1582 conflicts with your health freedom values, your views on the ideal role of government in protecting personal and economic liberties, etc. Extra challenge: try to keep it to one page! 

4. Plan to Attend Possible, Future Hearing and consider Testifying. Hearings for this committee typically take place at 1 pm on Mondays or Thursdays in Committee Room 6, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ. If a hearing date is set, we’ll share more details on how to participate (i.e., where to send testimony if you can’t attend, how to submit a “slip for the record”, etc). You can view agendas for upcoming hearings here to keep an eye out for A1582 (no meetings are currently scheduled for this committee), or sign-up for the NJ bill subscription service to be notified about status changes on A1582, or contact OLS Aide to the Commerce committee, Todd W. Moore, at 609-847-3845, with any questions. 

5. Share this message with your friends, colleagues, family, and social media outlets in New Jersey so they can Take Action too! We need all the help we can get to stop this terrible bill’s momentum. 

THANK YOU for your commitment to Health Freedom! If you have any questions, please contact us at info.nhfa@nationalhealthfreedom.org

New Jersey Health Seekers deserve to have maximum options protected for themselves as they work to explore their wellness and health. Click Here to Take Action and Oppose Restrictions on Access to Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practitioners.

 

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