Government Relations Report

Respectfully Submitted:
Amy Rodgers Smith, MMT, MT-BC
Neurologic Music Therapist



The American Music Therapy Association is monitoring changes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). AMTA is encouraging members and others to exercise your rights and responsibilities as citizens and consider participation in the democratic process in the following ways:


·         Call or email your legislators to express your opinions on the Affordable Health Care Act

·         Sign up for email updates from your state and federal legislators

·         Follow your state and federal legislators on social media

·         Attend advocacy events in your home district

·         Meet with your state and federal legislators in their home district offices

·         Invite your legislators to visit your clinical site, as appropriate, so they can observe “music therapy in action”

·         Follow AMTA Advocacy activities on social media  

Click here to see AMTA updates on the AHCA as they become available:



The Delaware State Task Force is off to a great start. We have added two new members since January, Gina Greeson and Alyssa Regan.  DESTF members are Keva Melvin, Chair, Jeremy Edler, Patricia (Trish) Gonzalez, Samantha Knapp, Thomas Peters (student member).

We have a busy summer planned.  Since the DESTF is fairly new, we are having a dinner on May 20, in Dover. Time TBD. This meeting will also be used to finalize our phone survey that will be distributed to the music therapists employed in Delaware.  Our members will be calling music therapists in Delaware to implement the survey and we will wrap up our calls by June 20. 

Finally, DESTF is preparing to have advocacy training for Delaware Music Therapists and affiliates on August 20, in Milford, DE.

For more information contact:

MDSTF (Chair – Niki Runge and Tatyana Martin)

On March 7th the Maryland Music Therapy State Task Force hosted a very successful Hill Day which included a free 6 credit CMTE and meeting with legislators. This preceded the bill hearing on March 8th of HB1458 THE BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS AND THERAPISTS- MARYLAND MUSIC THERAPISTS ACT. With the amazing introduction from our sponsor, a parent speaking on behave of his child, and the national team, the hearing went well. Although we have to reintroduce the bill next year, we will be working with the board of professional counselors and therapist to negotiate language to avoid opposition for the resubmission of the bill. Within the next year we will continue to reach out to our legislators to educate, develop, and maintain rapport to gain support for the next bill. 

For more information contact: 


NJSTF (Chair – Paula Unsal)

NJSTF welcomed Erica Gibbons, a Montclair State University student, as our new Student Representative in January of 2017. Sophia Salvatore, former Student Representative, stepped down when she completed her studies. Sophia played an important role in our NJ advocacy and we are happy to have Erica join us in that same role. Other NJSTF members include Chair, Paula Unsal, Lynn Coyle, Melissa Santiago, Beth Walls, Ellen de Havilland, Amanda Latham, and Consulting Member, Brian Abrams.

An eventful 2016 saw identical music therapist licensing bills introduced: A783, released from the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee, passed the General Assembly November 21, 2016 with bi-partisan support; and Senate bill S1601, released from the Commerce Committee and assigned to the Budget and Appropriations Committee (B&A) September 26, 2016.

This success was due to efforts of continued NJSTF advocacy through legislator meetings with follow-up phone calls and support of NJ music therapists who participated in Call to Actions, the Senate Hill Day on August 1, 2016 and registered support at committee hearings. In addition NJArtPride gave support through testimony and legislator contact.

Since last fall, progress slowed due to B&A agenda restrictions, including numerous 2017 public state budget hearings this spring, and an inundation of bills for the committee to hear. In May the B&A started holding limited non-budget hearings so possibility for movement on S1601 opened. NJSTF responded by initiating a Call to Action to push for agenda inclusion. Watch for updates on the MAR website to follow our progress!

For more information contact:


NYSTF (Chair – Donna Polen)

NYSTF is pleased to welcome two new professional members, Ivette Farciert-Vivar and Elizabeth K. Schwartz, expanding the size of the task force from 5 members to 6. We are also excited to begin working with 2 new student representatives, Sabrina Curtis (Nazareth) and Ryan Davis (SUNY Fredonia). Welcome aboard to all!

Mandatory Continuing Education Requirements for LCATs

Now required by law and specified in regulation, LCATs must now accrue 36 hours of continuing education (CE) during every 3-year registration period, effective January 1, 2017. These CE hours must be earned through state-approved providers. We have provided information in the last several issues – as well as this current issue – of RX:Music.

Music therapy licensing – we have a bill!

After years of work and collaboration between the task force, the national team and Diana Georgia, our legislative advocate, we have a bill! At the MAR conference in Rochester this past March, we hosted a very exciting Advocacy Breakfast. Our speakers included Andi Farbman, Executive Director of AMTA; Bryan Hunter, MT Dept Chair at Nazareth College; members of the national team; and Diana Georgia, who introduced our bill sponsor, Senator Rich Funke. Senator Funke spoke from an informed perspective about the scope of practice of music therapy and the need for recognition of our work as a licensed profession in NY. Later that same day, we received word that our bill had been introduced and received a number: S5264. S5264 is a 2-tiered license, providing for the licensing of professional and clinical music therapists. You can read the bill in detail here:

If you want to get involved, contact us to get on the Advocacy Support Network (ASN) mailing list, and come to one of our upcoming local meetings.

The school tours are done – now we are coming to your town!

Beginning in August 2015 and concluding in October 2016, the task force visited all 5 NYS schools: Molloy, Nazareth, NYU, SUNY Fredonia, and SUNY New Paltz. Spending a full day meeting with students as well as professionals, we facilitated open discussions and presented a 5-hour CMTE. We are now embarking on a new initiative and will be planning local meetings in cities and towns across the state. These meetings will include information regarding the LCAT as well as advocacy strategies for the MT licensure bill. If you would like to have the task force visit your area, please let us know. We would be especially grateful to hear from those of you who are able to host these meetings by providing meeting space, ideally with internet access and a projector and screen. Please let us hear from you!

As always, please contact the task force with any questions you may have regarding the LCAT and any music therapy related legislative, regulatory or advocacy issues. We can be reached at:


PASTF (Co-Chairs – Nicole Hahna, and Melanie Walborn)

Click here for the PASTF full update. If you are a resident of PA, stay connected to the task force through the monthly E-Newsletter by signing-up here. You can also “like” the PA Task Force on FB to receive updates on our advocacy work in PA.

For more information or questions contact:


VASTF (Chair- Briana Priester)

The Virginia task force is on hold until summer when they will regroup and reevaluate an action plan moving forward.

For more information contact:


WVSTF (Chair – Amy Rodgers Smith)

The WV Auditor’s office is currently reviewing the Sunrise application that was submitted for licensure consideration. Meetings and follow-up are ongoing.

For more information please contact:
Tags: Advocacy, government relations, mid-atlantic region

Category: Advocacy, Government Relations, News