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Legislation and our profession.

Legislation affects every aspect of our daily lives from health care and education to taxation and zoning issues. In the dental profession, a specific state's Dental Practice Act dictates the professional duties of dental assistants practicing there. These duties, as does regulation, vary dramatically from state to state. In some states, the dental assistant is not even recognized, whereas other states require state-specific credentials and examinations in order to practice.

Many state associations have been active legislatively working to change some aspect of their profession, and oftentimes the end result will have a domino effect on nearby states. While some states such as Arizona and North Dakota are working on getting a member on the state dental board of examiners or subcommittee, many states are working on increasing expanded functions delegated to dental assistants, restructuring the dental assisting profession, increasing continuing education requirements, or getting certification recognized as a required credential to practice dental assisting. Other states, such as Connecticut, are working on getting the profession recognized in their state Dental Practice Act.

The ADAA needs to be current on legislative activities in each state--not just on what has happened but also on what has been proposed and may soon become part of the rules and regulations governing dental assistants in various states. The ADAA website ( will soon have a legislative section with what is going on in particular states. For this to happen, we need a representative from each state willing to contact the Council on Legislation to share this information. The Council in turn, will share this information via the website and also during the ADAA Annual Conference in the Council report.

Communication from the states is equally important in assisting in the evaluation of requests for legislative assistance funding (LAP Funds). Each year, money in the ADAA budget is set aside to assist state components of ADAA with funds for their legislative activities. These funds are available through two programs: the Legislative Assistance Program (form 014) and the Emergency Legislative Assistance Program (form 015). Permissible use guidelines for the funds are the same for both programs:

* Transportation for legislative activity (representative of state associations and ADAA)

* Retainer fees (lobbyist, attorney, etc.)

* Legislative printing, postage, telephone charges

* Legislative public relations

* And MORE. The complete criteria for use of the funds and the application process are available from your District Trustee or from the ADAA Central Office.

Also available from the Central Office is the ADAA Legislative Guide. This publication provides information on several topics related to lobbying and the legislative process:

* How a bill becomes a law

* How to lobby

* How to select an attorney

* Sample letters

* Sample rules of the House and Senate And MORE. A copy of this Guide on CD-ROM may be obtained from the Central Office.

Legislative activity affects YOUR profession! Get involved, be persistent and communicate with others. What doesn't work for one state may work for another. The Council on Legislation is here to assist you, looks forward to your input and to working with you on your legislative endeavors. Together, we can build a stronger profession!

Natalie Kaweckyj, RDA, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, MADAA
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Dental Assistants Association
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Title Annotation:legislative activities of ADAA; legislative assistance funding
Author:Kaweckyj, Natalie
Publication:The Dental Assistant
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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