Hawaii Licensure in Governor’s Hands


Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) now holds the fate of the Hawaii state occupational therapy practice act in his hands.  Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) would become fully licensed professions under legislation advanced to the Governor on May 2.  Senate Bill 2472 would make Hawaii the 50th and final state to license OTs and one of the last remaining states to license OTAs.

The final version of the bill passed both chambers of the Hawaii State Legislature with near unanimous support just 2 days before the legislative session adjourned for the year on May 1.  The Governor now has 45 days to sign or veto the legislation before it would be enacted without his signature. AOTA immediately sent a letter to the Governor urging action.  The new act is effective upon the signature of the Governor with the OT licensing provisions taking effect January 1, 2015; and the OTA licensing requirement kicking in January 1, 2017.

The Occupational Therapy Association of Hawaii and AOTA are supporting and advocating for the bill to be enacted into law in 2014.   

Under current law, occupational therapists are registered and occupational therapy assistants are not regulated in Hawaii. The proposal repeals the existing occupational therapy registration requirements, creates a new occupational therapy licensure board within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, revises the definition of the “practice of occupational therapy,” and provides licensure requirements for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.

Occupational therapists are currently licensed in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Occupational therapy assistants are licensed in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The New York State Occupational Therapy Association is pursuing OTA licensure legislation in 2014.