Dear Colleagues,Dear Colleagues,
As I begin my first year as your ArkSHA President, I am reminded of this quote from the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has.” This quote not only summarizes the mission behind ArkSHA, it also highlights the important work of our profession. In this wonderfully dynamic and evolving field of speech pathology and audiology, we are not only catalysts for change in the lives of our clients, but we must also be advocates for ourselves professionally. ArkSHA is committed to doing just that, communicating your value to lawmakers and representing your voice in administrative and public policies that impact you daily.
The Regular Session of the 92nd General Assembly convened on Monday, January 14th and most of the Governor’s agenda has unfolded, including tax cuts, reorganizing state government, creating a highway funding plan, and raising starting teacher salaries. During this fast-paced legislative session, ArkSHA has been actively reviewing and tracking bills as they have been filed. A fun fact that you may not know: expediency is crucial, because a bill can become a law in as little as three days in the state of Arkansas! A few bills which we have monitored closely include the following: a bill of rights concerning mental health for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing; a bill granting immunity to mandated reporters of abuse; an anti-bullying bill; a bill authorizing video cameras in specific classrooms; as well as bills related to healthcare licensure, telemedicine, and reciprocal licensing. Our lobbyists are monitoring the PASSE program, a provider-led managed care initiative which covers roughly 40,000 citizens who have developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues. Additionally, we have met with legislators and policy-makers regarding the ability of school districts to pay licensure and fees necessary for school-based speech-language pathologists and audiologists and are working on an Interim Study Proposal which will be presented to the House of Education Committee to raise awareness of the important contribution of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in our state.
ArkSHA board members have been hard at work on behalf of the membership. Dr. Glade, our President-Elect, is recruiting members for the marketing committee from across Arkansas. The committee is collaborating across disciplines and specialty areas, and with students to revamp the organization’s website and to brainstorm ways to highlight and better serve members in the future. Dr. Thomason, our Past-President, organized a student advocacy day at the capitol, in which students from graduate programs attended presentations on advocacy from our lobbyists and board members, attended committee and legislative sessions, and met with Representative Bruce Cozart who is Chair of the House Committee on Education. Shelly Keller, the Vice President for SLP services, has developed wonderful email and social media posts to help drive membership and assist with marketing. Our Vice-President for Continuing Education, Jennifer Fisher, is preparing a great line-up of speakers for our convention, which will be held in October at the newly remodeled Robinson Center in Little Rock. Don’t forget to renew your membership for a reduced convention fee. These are just a few of the ways that ArkSHA is working hard for you.
Many other exciting things are going on at ArkSHA, from the work of our ad hoc committees to the dedication of our State Education Advocacy Leaders (SEALs) and State Advocates for Medicare Policy (StAMP). There are endless opportunities to become involved and engaged. If you would like to be a part of leadership, serve on a committee, or meet with a legislator, just let us know! Wishing you a wonderful and productive spring!
All the best,
LeeAnn Griffith, MS, CCC-SLP
ArkSHA 2019 President