MAR Government Relations Report: Summer 2015

Submitted by Maria Hricko Fay, MSW/LSW, LCAT, MT-BC

Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery

The MAR Region has 6 active state task forces. MAR states are making big strides forward with state recognition with assistance and guidance from AMTA and CBMT. I am continually impressed and thankful for the dedication of all the music therapists in our region working so hard towards these efforts.


  • Music Therapy License in Oregon Signed Into Law!!! – On Wednesday, July 1, 2015, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon signed into law HB 2796. This legislation creates a music therapy license in Oregon through the Health Licensing Office. Many thanks to the members of the Oregon Task Force (Jodi Winnwalker-Chair, Lillieth Grand, Dawn Iwamasa, Laura Beer, Chris Korb, Ted Owen, Melissa Potts, and Adam Young) and to all the music therapists in Oregon for their work, dedication, and advocacy for this legislation. Oregon joins Georgia, Nevada, and North Dakota in state licensures. Rhode Island and Wisconsin are recognized through a state registry and Utah is recognized through a state certification.
  • California Bill #AB1279 – On July 6, 2015, this CA Bill passed out of the Senate Business and Professions Committee and now moves on to the Senate floor. It is expected that AB1279 will be heard on the Senate floor the week of August 17th. It most likely will pass due to the unanimous support from Assembly Members and Senators.  It will then go to Governor Brown’s desk for a signature. This bill is not a licensure bill or practice act. It simply creates title protection for those referring to themselves as Board Certified Music Therapists. Good luck CA in the upcoming weeks!
  • 2015 Legislative Activity – So far, legislative activity for 2015 includes:
  1. States Seeking Music Therapy License – Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina
  2. Music Therapy Resolutions or Tributes – Colorado, Idaho, and Texas
  3. Music Therapy Definition/Music Therapist Qualifications – California
  • Music Therapy Research 2025 Symposium – AMTA convened an historic and innovative research symposium, “IMPROVING ACCESS AND QUALITY: MUSIC THERAPY RESEARCH 2025” (MTR 2025), July 16-18, 2015. This was made possible by a generous donation from David’s Fund and Tom and Lucy Ott.  As part of the symposium, AMTA Government Relations Director, Judy Simpson, discussed the impact of research on Music Therapy recognition, access, and funding.  She shared her thoughts regarding future music therapy research as it informs policy imperatives and the role and use of research in policy-making and advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels.


Maryland State Task Force (Co-Chairs: Tatyana Martin, MT-BC and Niki Runge, MCAT, MT-BC)

Contact information:

  • Personnel Changes
  1. MAR would like to thank Clarissa Karlsson, Gabby Ritter, Jessica McAllister, and Molly Griest for their service as they step down from the task force.
  2. Tatyana Martin was approved by the MAR Board to co-chair the task force. Welcome Tatyana!
  3. The task force also welcomes new MAR Board approved members Jason Armstrong Baker and Mary D’Amato as members to the task force.
  • Letter Writing Campaign – The task force is continuing to gather information on state legislators and organizing a letter writing campaign. Maryland Music Therapists, be on the lookout for “15-minutes of Advocacy” letter writing campaign and assist the task force in reaching out to your state legislator.
  • Niki Runge followed-up from the MAR Conference Advocacy Breakfast by attending a local family support group and doing some music therapy advocacy and relationship building with grass-tops. The support group leader was one of the Music Therapy Champions from the conference and Delegate Shree Sample-Hughes spoke at the event.

New Jersey State Task Force (Submitted by Chair: Paula Unsal, MM, MA, MT-BC)

Contact Information:

  • The New Jersey Music Therapist Licensing Act A4353 was assigned to the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee on May 7, 2015 and an identical bill S2971 was introduced and assigned to the Senate Commerce Committee on June 8, 2015.
  • A Summary of the Bills can be found here
  • Hill Day Success!!! – To garner support for both bills, the NJSTF held a Hill Day in Trenton on June 11, 2015 where the task force was joined by other NJ music therapists and music therapy students in scheduled and impromptu meetings with legislators. Check the MAR website for more information and pictures about this successful event:
  • Current Bill Sponsors – Legislator contact from Hill Day resulted in increased sponsorship as well as support among committee members.  Currently A4353 has four Primary Sponsors and three Co-Sponsors.  Additional sponsors are expected for S2971 as well.
  • WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW! – The NJSTF has asked NJ music therapists and music therapy students to contact Assembly and Senate committee members to seek support and/or to thank them for their support.  It is important that everyone responds to NJSTF Calls for Action.  If you are a NJ music therapist and did not receive a NJSTF email, please contact NJSTF

for information on how you can be involved. The NJSTF urges all interested parties to participate in advocacy. We provide support and guidance and you will make a difference!

New York State Task Force (Chair: Donna Polen, LCAT, MT-BC)

Contact Information:

  • Please refer to the individual report in this newsletter.

Pennsylvania State Task Force (Co-Chairs:  Nicole Hahna, PhD., MT-BC, and Melanie Walborn, MT-BC)

Contact Information:

  • Personnel Changes – Kimberly Studebaker stepped down from PASTF. Thank you Kimberly for your service and assistance with the PA Hill Days and for fielding questions regarding the LPC. The MAR Board approved two new members to the task force: Amy van Brug who participated in the 2014 Hill Day and Vern Miller. They are joining the task force during some exciting times!
  • Music Therapy Licensure Bill – HB 1438, sponsored by Representative Eddie Day Pashinski was introduced on July 6, 2015 and referred to the Professional Licensure Committee.  As of this writing the bill has 21 co-sponsors. Follow the bill here:
  • Music Therapy Licensure Bill in the Senate – Senator Teplitz and Senator Folmer has agreed to be the primary sponsors for a Music Therapy Licensure Bill in the Senate. The bill has not yet been formally introduced but also has many co-sponsors. These bills will create legislation that will protect Pennsylvania consumers of music therapy by ensuring that they are receiving safe and quality services by a clinically trained and educated healthcare provider and that only licensed and credentialed professionals can work as “music therapists” in PA. Furthermore, these bills will help Pennsylvanian families and employers locate professionally credentialed music therapists if they are in need of services.
  • Call to Action – The PASTF has been very busy gathering support for these bills. The task force has been sending out “calls to action” to PA Music Therapists for targeted efforts to support the bill. If you see a “Call to Action” from the task force PLEASE RESPOND EVERYTIME.
  • Weekly Trips to the PA Capitol – This month Melanie Walborn has been making weekly trips to the PA State Capitol to gain the support of Licensure Committee members. She has been accompanied by Vern Miller and Nicole Hahna. Thank you Melanie for tireless dedication in this effort!
  • Monthly Email Blasts – The task force is sending out monthly email blasts to keep PA MT’s updated. If you would like to receive these updates please contact the task force.
  • Facebook Page – The task force has begun a new Facebook Page: Music Therapy PA State Task Force.  Like us!
  • Meeting With PA Department of Human Services Secretary – On July 21, 2015, Nicole Hahna, Melanie Walborn, and Maria Hricko Fay met in Harrisburg with PA Department of Human Service Secretary, Ted Dallas, and his Special Advisor, Heather Hallman. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss including music therapy as a separate service definition in the Office of Developmental Programs (OPD) Consolidated Person/Family Directed Supports Waivers and as a service option for ODP’s Adult Autism Waiver or the Adult Community Autism Program. This meeting opened up discussions with the state to see (1) if music therapy is an eligible service, and (2) what the cost would be to put music therapy back into Medicaid Waiver.

Virginia State Task Force (Chair: Brianna Priester, MT-BC)

Contact information:

  • New Task Force Members – On May 27, 2015 an email was sent to ALL music therapists in VA to seek individuals who are interested in working on the task force. Five VA Music Therapists submitted a letter of interest and a short bio to the MAR Board for approval. Brianna Priester,  Amanda Burchfiel, Julie Neal, Shannon Besaw Khalifa, and Tom Sweitzer were approved by the MAR Board at the June Board Meeting based on letter content, clinical areas of expertise, and location in the state to support well-distributed state representation. Brianna Priester was named task force chair and also serves on the VA Music Therapy Association Board as Government Relations liaison.
  • First Meeting – The task force held its first phone conference in July and is excited to delve into the state regulations!

West Virginia State Task Force (Chair – Amy Rodgers Smith, MT-BC)

Contact Information:

  • New Member – The WVSTF would like to welcome new task force member Karla Holsclaw.
  • New West Virginia Music Therapy Program – MAR and the WVSTF would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Dena Register (new WVU Director of Music Therapy) to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!  Dena is also the CBMT Regulatory Affairs Advisor and is part of the national team working with all the state task forces on state recognition. WV Music Therapists are organizing a get-together to attend a 3-hour CMTE and have a welcome celebration.
  • Facebook – If you are from WV and want to stay connected with what is going on in your state, connect on Facebook to West Virginia Music Therapists.
  • WV I/DD Waiver – WV did a “call to action” to the WV I/DD Waiver revisions to include music therapy in the Medicaid Waiver program. Music therapy was not added as a therapy service and a letter was sent out for families, friends, and agencies to submit by April 24, 2015.  There has been a strong response from families, friends, and agencies to the cuts proposed to the WV I/DD waiver.

Please send questions regarding MAR Government Relations to Maria Hricko Fay: