The Mid-Winter meeting of Council in Washington, D.C., was the first in APA history that all states became voting members of the Council of Representatives. In addition, all Canadian provinces and American territories with psychological associations were granted representation.
Recently approved by-law amendments paved the way for the expanded Council of Representatives, which now includes 162 seats, up from around 144 in 2002. Many of the new voting members of Council previously had observer status and three states- Arkansas, West Virginia and Delaware-were represented in a four-member coalition that included Pennsylvania.
In the past, observers were allowed to speak on the floor of Council, but had no vote. With adoption of the so-called “modified wild card plan” last year, there is no longer any need for coalition of states or observer status.
Arkansas, West Virginia, Delaware, Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada were the states gaining votes on the Council as a result of the latest apportionment plan. The District of Columbia is also newly represented on Council.
Canadian provinces gaining seats include British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Quebec. Ontario previously had a seat and vote on Council.
The territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands now have votes on Council and the APA Graduate Student organization is represented as a result of recent balloting that insures it a permanent vote.
The method in which votes by APA members are allocated has resulted in some states losing members on Council. Two states-California and New York-saw their three seats each reduced from three to two and Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Washington, which previously had two seats each on Council, are now represented by one psychologist each.
Council seats are apportioned on the number of votes cast for states and APA’s 53 divisions. That voting system currently allocates about 40% of Council seats to states and 60% to divisions. Each APA member has 10 votes to spread among states and various divisions.
Ronald Levant, Ph.D., APA recording secretary and a member of various task forces that have sought ways to insure each state and province with a seat on Council, said the new system was not designed to take away seats from larger states, but that pure mathematics resulted in six states losing Council representatives.
He said he has already heard talk about states banding together to increase the number of votes cast for state representation on Council, the only way there could be an increase in the number of seats allocated to states.
Levant said the “modified wild card plan” now in operation injects more democracy into Council, with each state, province and territory guaranteed at least one seat.
He said it has also increased the diversity on Council.
From the beginning, Levant noted, the effort to increase state representation on Council grew out of the realization that legislation at the state level had great impact on the practice of psychology.
“Just look at Guam and what that has done for the profession,” Levant said. Guam was the site of the first legislature extending prescribing authority to psychologists. New Mexico followed suit last year.