This week, the House passed a bill by a vote of 40-27 which would mandate certain social worker positions to be held only by those who have a four-year degree in social work. While this may seem obvious at first glance, 27 Representatives including myself voted against the measure.
The bill would also repeal a provision which allowed those with a four-year degree in another field, 2 years of relevant social work experience, andcompletion of additional courses equivalent to a social work program to also qualify for these positions.
So under the current law, someone with a Phd. in Psychology, Counseling, or some other relevant field who has social work experience would be allowed to hold the position, provided they completed necessary additional training. But if this new law passes, these candidates will no longer be able to apply. Nearly all of us could name someone who does not hold a degree in a specific field, but due to their experience and skills are far more qualified than some who do hold a four year degree in that specific field.
While the passage or failure of this bill will affect few people today, since those currently holding positions are “grandfathered,” it brings to light a broader trend which we deal with every day in the Legislature. Many bills that are brought before us under the guise of quality control or consumer protection really are designed to protect the power and funding streams of an exclusive club at the expense of the people.
The result is higher prices for employers and consumers, a false sense of security and protection, and a boxing out of otherwise well-qualified applicants who wish to use their talents and experience to make a meaningful contribution to a new profession.