New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson made it official on March 6, signing the bill granting psychologists prescription authority. The article below is excerpted from the Page 1 story in The March/April 2002 issue of The National Psychologist which went to press and was mailed on Feb. 28.
In a startling development, New Mexico became the first state on Feb. 14 to gain legislative approval for prescription privileges ending efforts by psychologists dating back to the 1980s.
However, the task was not quite finished at press time. New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s signature was still to be affixed on the bill. But he was expected to sign. Even if he vetoed it, the state Senate’s 29-9 vote in favor of the legislation seems assurance against overturning a veto but was nonetheless a political uncertainty. A veto would require a two-thirds Senate majority. Earlier the bill had received a 56-11 majority in the House.
Last March, the New Mexico Legislature considered the prescribing rights issue and passed it in the House. But time ran out before the state Senate could consider it.
At year’s end, Gov. Johnson called the bill up for consideration in an abbreviated 2002 session, a process whereby legislation that lingered one term can be reconsidered the following year. Before doing so, Johnson called a meeting of the contesting parties–psychologists and psychiatrists–in his office to explain their respective positions.
Elaine LeVine, Ph.D., the Las Cruces, NM psychologist whose heroic efforts to procure prescription privileges in last March’s regular session, was again in the legislative spotlight as the bill wound through the relentless process.