Eng’s Chiro board bill dies, Senate measure moves forward

The Assembly version of a bill to reform the state’s Board of Chiropractic Examiners died on Monday. Meanwhile, a similar Senate bill is moving forward.

AB 1137 from Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, was voted down 9-0 in the Senate Business and Professions Committee chaired by Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles. On Tuesday, that Assembly Business and Professions Committee chaired by Eng approved SB 801, a substantially similar bill authored by Ridley-Thomas, on a 6-3 vote. Each served as principal coauthor on the other’s bill.

Both bills were written to rein in the Chiropractic Board, which both legislators say has been behaving unethically. The usually obscure board burst into the news after a contentious March 1 board meeting in which it sought to fire it’s executive director. The dispute has pitted the board, all of whom were appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, against several staffers who have been with the board for years.

SB 801 bill seeks to address these problems by placing the board under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and subject it to the standard sunset review process, among other changes.

Ridley-Thomas said that he and Eng have been speaking with the California Chiropractic Association (CCA). Eng took an amendment to remove language limiting the scope of chiropractic practice that the CCA objected to, Ridley-Thomas said. Scope of practice was the “big ticket item for chiropractors, he said. When these changes failed to garner support from the CCA, Ridley-Thomas said, they made a decision to move forward with the stronger Senate bill.

“In many ways it was a test case,” Ridley-Thomas said of the amendment that failed to get support from chiropractors. “They failed the test.”

On May 31, Ridley-Thomas sent a letter to Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, asking him to cut the Board’s budget in half in order to create pressure for pass SB 801.

Many chiropractors in the state say they the California Medical Association has long sought to undermine their profession. They point to a 1976 resolution under which the board emancipated itself from the DCA and the Board of Medical Examiners, citing systematic antagonism.

“That’s not my fight,” Ridley-Thomas said. “This was not inspired by the CMA. It was inspired by the BCE. They started it. The Legislature has a responsibility to end it.”

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