Legislative Action Center

The Michigan Audiology Coalition maintains a heavy agenda of activities to address legislative and regulatory priorities at the state level. According to our 2022 membership survey, our lobbyist and legislative agenda remain a top priority for the majority of membership with 76% of respondents indicating they would like MAC to continue our lobbyist contract. From monitoring new legislation and regulations to helping shape policy, our volunteer leadership and dedicated lobbyist, Bob DeVries work to represent the interests of audiologists in the state of Michigan.

Make us aware of legislative issues important to you: legislation@michiganaudiologycoalition.org

Meet the MAC Lobbyist, Bob

Bob DeVries has worked in Michigan Legislative politics since 2006. Bob got his start as a low-level staffer in the House of Representatives. Over the next decade he worked his way up the staff ranks, finally reaching the position of Chief of Staff to the Senate Majority Leader. Since 2017, Bob has been a lobbyist at GCSI, serving many important clients like the Michigan Audiology Coalition (MAC). Bob was hired to be the MAC lobbyist in 2020. As a lobbyist, it is Bob’s job to maintain relationships with 148 Legislators and dozens of Executive Branch officials so that his clients always have an opening to talk to whoever can help.

Bob is married to Jackie and they have four elementary aged children–Abby, Betsy, Maggie, and Bobby. They live in the Grand Rapids area. Bob enjoys golfing, going to the pool with his kids, and watching his beloved Detroit Tigers.

2023 Legislative Year

There has been significant change in the legislative landscape in Lansing and we are working with our lobbyist to set an aggressive legislative agenda for 2023. Goals for this session will focus on:

  • Universal cytomegalovirus (CMV) screening for all infants born in Michigan
  • Let MI Child Hear bills which would bring hearing aid coverage to children in Michigan
  • Continued efforts to improve policy maker understanding of hearing health care and recognition of audiologists as the experts in hearing health care
  • A second MAC Advocacy Day with arranged meetings for audiologists and their representatives 10/18/2023 just prior to the annual MAC conference
  • Continued efforts for the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC)

This year, we are looking for advocates from around the state to be ready to act when needed. Legislators need help understanding what hearing health care is and how our patients may be impacted by various policies. We are asking for audiologists from around the state to join the Michigan Legislative Action Network (MiLAN) and be ready and willing to contact legislators as needed. This may include scheduling a meeting, emailing, or calling your representatives. The Legislative Committee will provide training and guidance on what to do whenever a relevant legislative issue arises. Ideally we will have representation from every district to be able to contact their representative and senator whenever MAC needs to get the word out about our support or opposition on a particular issue. All are welcome to serve as advocates though we are in particular need for representation from the more rural areas of Michigan.

Legislative Accomplishments

Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity & International Safety Equipment Association Bill
  • Lowered occupational noise permissible exposure limit (PEL) to 85 dBA and the exchange rate to 3 dB
  • MAC supported and testified
  • Passed, signed into law
Modification of the Driver’s License Bill HB 4364-4366
  • Allowing those with autism or hearing loss to obtain a designation on their driver’s license to ease communication with law enforcement officers
  • Bill was introduced into the transportation committee
  • Audiologists were not listed as providers able to make designation
  • MAC testified requesting the bill be amended
  • Passed, signed into law 11/4/2021

Legislative Concerns Ongoing/Active

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Screening Bill – HB 5140
  • CMV is the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the US
    • vision loss, hearing loss, intellectual disability, impaired motor function, seizures
    • 1/150 babies born, 1/5 with congenital CMV have long-term complications
  • Congenital CMV (cCMV) is most common cause of non-hereditary hearing loss
  • Anti-viral treatments must be administered within 31 days of birth to be optimally effective
  • Disproportionally impacts racial and ethnically marginalized communities
  • No standard of care and no universal screening program in the state of Michigan
  • HB 5140 was introduced by Rep Curt Vanderwall (R) 10/13/23. If passed the legislation would require universal screening for congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) for all infants born in the state of Michigan
  • The Committee has worked on this issue for serval years along with a group of invested stakeholders around the state. The bill also proposes to add resources and education regarding cCMV for families, health care providers, and others. We are very excited about the language of this bill though recognize there is still a database/monitoring component for delayed onset symptoms missing.
  • We continue to work with Senator Jeremy Moss (D) and his office on a Senate version of this bill. Their current draft includes language very similar to the House Bill.
  • Please remain attentive to your MAC email as once these bills are assigned to committee we will request that all members contact their legislators to request their support of this bill.
  • Bill is available here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2023-2024/billintroduced/House/pdf/2023-HIB-5140.pdf
Let MI Child Hear Bills (HB 4963, 4944)

Two bills have been introduced in the House and have been assigned to the Committee on Insurance and Financial Services. The MAC Legislative Committee has participated with a large group of stakeholders to bring attention to this issue and push for clear coverage for children for hearing health care. As these bills progress through the legislative process, we will ask you to reach out to your representatives and ask for their support on these bills. The bills can be reviewed below.

House Bill No. 4963

House Bill No. 4944

FDA Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Decision

MAC monitoring in accordance with the American Academy of Audiology OTC Task Force regarding recommendations for specific state-based interactions with the ruling (licensure law regulations, etc.)

Language Equality & Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) Bill 5777
  • Proposes to track language milestones from birth-5 years of age, in ASL or spoken English and establish an advisory board
  • MAC opposing due to:
    • Inefficient use of public finds as it is a duplication of what Early On and MDE-ILO currently provide
    • Conflicts with a key provision of Federal IDEA law
    • Biased advisory committee
    • Does not focus on multidisciplinary approach
    • Does not provide for consideration of additional factors including comorbid conditions that may impact language acquisition
    • Ignores multi-cultural families who do not use ASL or spoken English in the home
    • Opposed by AAA, ASHA, American Cochlear Implant Alliance, Michigan Otolaryngological Society, Michigan AG Bell Association, American Academy of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, Directors of Speech & Hearing Programs in State Health & Welfare Agencies, Hearing Los Association of America, International Hearing Society, and the National Center for Hearing Assessment & Management
  • Current LEAD-K Timeline:
    • Defeated in senate committee 12/18/2020
    • Reintroduced to House 2/25/21
    • MAC testified in opposition at the House committee hearing 3/8/22
    • Passed the Families, Children and Seniors Committee in the house on 3/22/22
    • Passed full House 4/13/2022
    • Met with the legislative liaison for the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs at the MI Dept of Education 4/4/2022
    • Met with MSHA president Derek Daniels on 5/5/22
    • Passed the full House on 4/13/2022
    • Moved to the Education Committee in the Senate on 4/15/2022
    • Met with 7 senators to discuss concerns about bill 5/7/22
    • Monitoring to see when bill will be reintroduced to senate committee in the upcoming session

Legislative Concerns Monitored

Interstate Licensure Compact
  • The Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC) facilitates the interstate practice of audiology and speech-language pathology while maintaining one license to practice
  • As of August 2022, the ASLP-IC has been enacted into law in 23 states
  • MAC supports an interstate compact agreement for Audiology however, we cannot pursue legislative support as Governor Whitmer has stated she will veto all licensure compacts
  • As of 10/12/23, several House bills were introduced for licensure compact agreements involving health occupations, physical therapists, and occupational therapists in the state of MI
  • We will continue to monitor progress on interstate compact agreements closely

2022 Legislative Year in Review

Events

MAC Advocacy Day October 18th, 2023

26 MAC members from across the state met with their house representatives and state senators to educate them on what an audiologist is and ask for their support of House Bill 5140 which would allow for universal newborn screening for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). The day started with a training by the MAC legislative Committee and Bob. Students and audiologists split into groups for 33 different meetings across the House and Senate.

MAC Advocacy Day March 8th, 2022

25 MAC members from all over the state traveled to Lansing, MI to advocate for the field of Audiology. After a brief training with Bob DeVries, MAC members met with Representatives from the House and Senate throughout the day. Dr. Casey Stach, chair of the legislative committee, testified at the Families, Children, and Seniors Committee hearing in opposition of the Lead-K bill.

Happy Hour October 12th, 2022

Prior to the 2022 MAC conference, the Mug Club and Legislative Committee hosted a Pints & Policy happy hour with lobbyist, Bob DeVries. The event, open to all MAC members, included informal legislative discussion and raffle prizes donated by manufacturers and MAC members. 27 attendees registered for the event and over $1500 was raised for the MAC legislative effort.

Useful Links