CHAPTER 591

SENATE BILL NO. 566

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 55 OF TITLE 14, DELAWARE CODE, PROVIDING FOR OPTOMETRIC INSTITUTIONAL AID AND FURTHER PROVIDING A SUPPLEMENTARY APPROPRIATION THEREFOR.

WHEREAS, the General Assembly finds and declares that the Health Manpower Report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes an increasing need for additional optometrists; and

WHEREAS, Delaware is experiencing a recognized shortage of optometrists; and

WHEREAS, at the present time there are no existing facilities in the State of Delaware for the training of students to enter the profession of optometry; and

WHEREAS, the increasing costs of optometric education programs in our sister states has made it almost prohibitive for Delaware students to be admitted without contractual agreement between the states.

NOW, THEREFORE:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Dela ware:

Section 1. Amend Chapter 55 of Title 14, Delaware Code, by redesignating all of the existing chapter as Subchapter I and by creating a new subchapter to be designated as Subchapter II to read as follows:

"SUBCHAPTER II. OPTOMETRIC INSTITUTIONAL AID

§5530. Administration of Program.

(a) The aid program shall be administered by the State Board of Education with the advise and consent of the advisory committee herein created and shall be authorized to contract with any and all accredited schools of optometry for the acceptance of students who are residents of Delaware and have been so for at least twelve (12) months prior thereto and desire to study optometry.

(b) All such contracts shall be entered into by the State Board of Education on behalf of the State through the Contract Sponsorship Program of the American Optometric Foundation or directly with one or more accredited schools of optometry.

(c) Institutional participants in this program shall maintain the same standards of admission for Delaware applicants as are provided for applicants of their own and other states.

§5531. Advisory Committee.

(a) In order to assist the State Board of Education in the administration of this program there is hereby established an advisory committee consisting of the following: One representative of the Delaware State Board of Examiners in Optometry to be appointed by the Board; a representative of the Delaware Optometric Association to be appointed by the President of the Association; two (2) Delaware optometrists appointed by the Governor for terms of four (4) years each. All four appointees shall be appointed to serve in the following manner: One shall be appointed for a one year term; one shall serve a two year term; one for a three year term; and one for a four year term. All subsequent terms for four years each. The Governor shall also appoint a public member to serve at his pleasure.

(b) The Advisory Committee shall organize annually by appointing one of its members as Chairman and one as Vice-Chairman. Members shall serve without compensation, but shall be entitled to all necessary expenses incurred in attending meetings of the Committee.

(c) State Board of Education and the Adivsory Committee shall provide yearly contracts for not more than four (4) qualified f,tudents annually at a cost per contract of no more than $4,000. This means that since the Optometry Program is a 4-year course, there would be no more than 16 student contracts authorized under this act at any one time and the cost to the State would not exceed a sum total of $64,000 annually.

(d) Every student who is attending an optometric institution under the provisions of this Act shall be obligated upon completion of his or her course of study to practice in Delaware for at least one year for each year of study that was paid for under this Act.

(e) The State Board of Education and the Advisory Committee shall have the authority to adopt rules and regulations for the purpose of implementing the provisions of this Act."

Section 2. The provisions of this Act shall not take effect until September 1, 1977.

Section 5. Any person who is a recipient of financial assistance under the provisions of this Act shall be required to pay back twenty-five percent (25°7o) of the contract cost associated with his education under terms and conditions to be established by the Board.

Approved July 21, 1976