Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules recently held an executive session on Clearinghouse Rule 19-166. The rule would update professional standards for marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers. It would also prohibit practitioners from utilizing or promoting conversion therapy in an attempt to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), committee member, argued that conversion therapy is recognized as emotionally damaging by national social worker organizations and should be banned. "I don't think it's right for this committee to endorse that social workers...continue to be able to condone a conduct...that has been condemned," Sen. Larson said. In response, Senator Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), committee chair, said that he's tried to work with the Department of Safety and Professional Services and other organizations on the issue without success. Sen. Nass also argued the importance of following legislative intent and keeping departments within their rule-making bounds. "I think it's imperative that the Legislature maintain the boundaries of the departments and not let them go willy nilly changing, in this case, statewide definitions and decide that they're going to alter those."

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