ASSEMBLY, No. 3975

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 27, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  REGINALD W. ATKINS

District 20 (Union)

Assemblyman  DAN HUTCHISON

District 4 (Atlantic, Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblywoman  SHAMA A. HAIDER

District 37 (Bergen)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Verrelli, Assemblywomen Hall and Reynolds-Jackson

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Regulates peer recovery specialists.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the regulation of peer recovery specialists and supplementing P.L.1997, c.331 (C.45:2D-1 et seq.).

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known as the “Peer Recovery Specialist Committee Act.”

 

     2.    As used in this act:

     "Board" means the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners.

     "Committee" means the Peer Recovery Specialist Committee established pursuant to this act.

     "Department" means the Department of Law and Public Safety.

     "Director" means the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety.

     “Lived experience” means experience with substance use disorder and residual side effects of the disorder that informs the care a peer recovery specialist provides to other individuals experiencing substance use disorder.

     “Peer recovery specialist” means an individual certified by the committee who meets the qualifications as set forth in this act to provide services as a result of lived experience to other individuals struggling with substance use disorder or mental health problems.

 

     3.    There is established a committee of the board to be known as the Peer Recovery Specialist Committee.  The committee shall consist of five members who are residents of the State, one of whom shall be a public member appointed pursuant to the provisions of subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.1971, c.60 (C.45:1-2.2).  Of the four remaining members, all shall have been actively engaged in peer recovery for at least five years immediately preceding their appointment, have spent the major portion of time devoted to that activity, during the two years preceding appointment, in this State, and except for the members first appointed, shall be certified as a peer recovery specialist.

 

     4.    a.  The Governor shall appoint each member of the committee for terms of three years, except that of the members first appointed, three shall serve for a term of three years and two shall serve for terms of two years.  Any vacancy in the membership shall be filled for the unexpired term in the manner provided by the original appointment.  No member of the committee may serve more than two successive terms in addition to any unexpired term to which the member has been appointed.  The Governor may remove any member of the committee for cause.

     The committee shall annually elect from its members a chairperson and a vice-chairperson.

     Regular meetings of the committee shall be held at least once during each quarter of the year and special meetings may be held upon the call of the chairperson or the vice-chairperson in the chairperson's absence.

     b.    The first appointees to the committee shall meet the qualifications of section 3 of this act and shall become certified peer recovery specialists as soon as practical.

 

     5.    To qualify for certification as a peer recovery specialist, an individual shall:

     a.     demonstrate completion of high school or a General Educational Development program, or possession of a higher education diploma;

     b.    demonstrate completion of at least 500 hours of work or volunteer experience related to peer recovery in the two years prior to the submission of an application to the committee;

     c.     submit an attestation that the individual attended four self-help meetings relating to co-occurring disorders or substance use disorder;

     d.    demonstrate completion of 25 hours of pre-approved practicum hours in an approved or licensed agency related to services provided by a peer recovery specialist;

     e.     submit an ethical standards recognition statement for a certified peer recovery specialist, signed by a supervisor;

     f.     submit evidence of 46 hours of in-person training on the four domains of peer recovery: advocacy, mentoring and education, recovery and wellness support, and ethical responsibility;

     g.    in accordance with section 2 of P.L.2002, c.104 (C.45:1-29), pass a criminal history record background check; and

     h.    fulfill other qualifications as determined by the committee, including payment of an application fee.

 

     6.    The committee shall, in addition to any other powers and duties as it may possess by law or that may be delegated to the committee by the board:

     a.     administer the provisions of this act;

     b.    evaluate the qualifications and make a determination of the eligibility for certification of all applicants under this act, attesting to the applicant's professional qualification to provide services a certified peer recovery specialist;

     c.     investigate allegations of violations of this act;

     d.    conduct hearings pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), except that the director shall have the right to administer oaths to witnesses, and shall have the power to issue subpoenas for the compulsory attendance of witnesses and the production of pertinent books, papers and records;

     e.     recommend rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) as it may deem necessary to enable it to perform its duties under and to enforce the provisions of this act, including, but not limited to rules and regulations that set standards for certified peer recovery specialists involving:

     (1)   the development of a scope of practice for a certified peer recovery specialist, to include services a certified specialist can and cannot provide;

     (2)   supervision to be provided for a certified peer recovery specialist in the performance of services; and

     (3)   continuing education and training required for certification renewal;

     f.     maintain a list of the names and addresses of all peer recovery specialists who are certified under this act; and

     g.    set fees for initial certification and certification renewal, reactivation, and reinstatement.

 

     7.    The committee shall review the qualifications of each person who applies for certification.  No applicant shall be certified by the board unless a majority of the full committee first determines that the applicant has met the requirements for certification in accordance with section 5 of this act.  All applicants who are determined to be qualified and are recommended for certification by the committee shall be considered for certification by the board, with the final decisions to be made by the board.  The board is authorized to review the actions taken by the committee with respect to the committee's evaluation of applicants for certification and the board may reverse, modify, or fail to implement any determination by the committee with an affirmative vote of a majority of the board.

 

     8.    Certifications shall be renewed biennially upon a form provided by the committee.  Each applicant shall apply for renewal of certification within 180 days of expiration, and shall present satisfactory evidence that the continuing education requirements have been completed.  If the certificate is not renewed within 180 days of expiration, the certification shall be revoked upon notice by the board.  A certification which has been revoked may be reinstated within three years, upon payment to the committee of a prescribed reinstatement fee in addition to the renewal fee for each year or part thereof during which the license or certification was ineffective.  After the three-year period, the certification may be reinstated only by complying with the provisions of this act regarding initial certification.

     9.    A certified peer recovery specialist shall not:

     a.     engage in professional relationships or commitments that conflict with family members, friends, close associates, or others whose welfare might be jeopardized by that relationship or commitment;

     b.    exploit peer relationships with current or former peers for personal gain, including social or business relationships; and

     c.     accept as peers for recovery wellness services anyone with whom the peer recovery specialist has engaged in a personal relationship, including any family members or spouses.

 

     10.  a.  No person shall provide services as a peer recovery specialist unless certified under this act.  No person shall present, call, or represent themselves as a peer recovery specialist unless certified under this act.

     b.    No person shall assume, represent themselves as, or use the title or designation of “peer recovery specialist” unless certified under this act, and unless the designation corresponds to the certification held by the person pursuant to this act.

 

     11.  a.  Nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent a person from engaging in or offering services regulated by this act, including for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder involving drugs, such as self-help, sponsorship through alcoholics and narcotics anonymous groups or other uncompensated counseling assistance for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder involving drugs.

     b.    Nothing in this act shall be construed to apply to the activities and services of a designated employee or other agent of a private employer who has been designated to be involved in the evaluation or referral for counseling of employees of the private employer, or an employee or other agent of a recognized academic institution, a federal, State, county, or local government institution, agency, or facility, or a school district, if the individual is performing these activities solely within the company or agency, as the case may be, or under the jurisdiction of that company or agency and if a license granted under this act is not a requirement for employment.

     c.     Nothing in this act shall be construed to apply to the activities and services of a member of the clergy of any religious denomination or sect, when engaging in activities which are within the scope of the performance of the person's regular or specialized ministerial duties and for which no separate charge is made, or when these activities are performed, with or without charge, for or under the auspices or sponsorship, individually or in conjunction with others, of an established and legally cognizable church, denomination, or sect, and when the person rendering services remains accountable to the established authority thereof.

     d.    Nothing in this act shall be construed to apply to the activities and services of a student, intern, or trainee in counseling for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder involving drugs pursuing a course of study in counseling in a regionally accredited institution of higher education or training institution, if these activities are performed under supervision and constitute a part of the supervised course of study.

     e.     Nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent a person from providing services related to peer recovery, or advertising those services, when acting within the scope of the person's profession or occupation and doing work consistent with the person's training, including physicians, clinical social workers, psychologists, nurses, or any other profession or occupation licensed by the State, or students within accredited programs of these professions, if the person does not hold himself or herself out to the public as possessing a certification issued pursuant to this act.

 

     12.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the thirteenth month next after the effective date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, the “Peer Recovery Specialist Committee Act,” establishes a committee to regulate peer recovery specialists providing services in this State.

     The committee is to be known as the Peer Recovery Specialist Committee and is to consist of five members who are residents of the State.  The bill provides that one member is to be a public member and the four remaining members are to have been actively engaged in peer recovery for at least five years immediately preceding their appointment.

     The bill, among other items, establishes certain standards that must be met in order for an individual to qualify for certification as a peer recovery specialist; stipulates the various responsibilities of the committee; delineates exemption from certification; and establishes the standards for conflicts of interest for a certified peer recovery specialist.