Down to the Wire with Dental Bills

Down to the Wire with Dental Bills

Legislative processes are the backbone of governance, shaping policies that impact the lives of citizens. Understanding the intricacies of legislative timelines is crucial for both lawmakers and constituents alike. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, two states steeped in history and tradition, legislative deadlines play a significant role in shaping the agenda and outcomes of their respective legislative bodies.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the legislative process is governed by strict deadlines that ensure the efficient functioning of the state’s General Court. The Massachusetts General Court operates on a two-year legislative cycle, with each session beginning in January of an odd-numbered year and concluding at the end of an even-numbered year.

In Massachusetts, the legislative session will conclude on July 31, 2024. This deadline serves as a hard stop for the consideration of legislation, prompting lawmakers to finalize their priorities and reach consensus on pending bills. Any bills that fail to pass both chambers of the General Court by this date must be reintroduced in the next legislative session.

The two bills that are currently in play are the Dental Hygienist Reciprocal Licensure Act (House Bill 3880) and the Dentist Diversion Program Act (House Bill 300). House Bill 3880 would establish a process allowing for dentists licensed and practicing in another jurisdiction (including a foreign country) for at least 5 years to be licensed to practice as a dental hygienist in the Commonwealth without additional examination.

House Bill 300 would establish a dentist diversion program and directs the Board of Registration of Dentistry (BORID) to develop and regulate the implementation of remediation programs for licensed dental professionals at risk of losing their licenses due to illness, substance use or other mental health disorders. This legislation allows use of such programs as alternatives to traditional disciplinary actions.

Similarly, Rhode Island operates on a two-year legislative cycle, with its General Assembly convening in January of each odd-numbered year. The legislative deadlines in Rhode Island mirror those of Massachusetts but may vary slightly in timing and procedure.

The conclusion of the legislative session in Rhode Island will occur in June. 2024. As in Massachusetts, this deadline serves as a critical milestone for lawmakers, signaling the end of the legislative session and prompting final deliberations on pending legislation.

Rhode Island dentists have been instructed to encourage their elected officials to pass the Rhode Island Dental Association’s More for Your Smile legislation, which includes House Bill H5497 and Senate Bill S0286. This legislation follows Massachusetts’ Question 2 Dental Loss Ratio initiative that passed overwhelming last November.

For legislators in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, navigating legislative deadlines is essential for prioritizing legislative initiatives and advancing policy goals. By adhering to established deadlines, lawmakers can ensure that their proposals receive proper consideration and have the opportunity to become law.

Understanding legislative deadlines is crucial for both lawmakers and constituents in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. By adhering to established timelines and remaining engaged in the legislative process, stakeholders can work together to shape policies that reflect the needs and priorities of the communities they serve.

Dr. L. Jeffrey Lowenstein
NESO Legislative Correspondent