EMU Faculty, Dr. Irene Mass Ametrano, Plays a Leading Role in Passage of HB 4325
By Rachel Renou, COE Grad Assistant and Irene Mass Ametrano, COE Professor | Published November 12, 2019
Gov. Whitmer and Rep. Aaron Miller holding House Bill 4325 right after signing it into law. (L-R: Dr. Sara Sue Schaeffer, Co-Chair of the MMHCA Legislative Committee, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Aaron Miller and Dr. Irene Mass Ametrano, Co-Chair of the MMHCA Legislative Committee).
YPSILANTI - Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4325, now Public Act 96 of 2019, into law. The new Counselor Licensure law makes permanent the counseling practices allowed through administrative rule since the previous licensure law was passed in 1988. The new law allows professional counselors to maintain their ability to diagnose and treat individuals with mental and emotional disorders.
The passage of this bill ensures that professional counselors can continue to provide treatment to hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents in need of mental health services at a time when Michigan and the rest of the nation are facing a mental health crisis. The estimated 10,000 licensed and limited licensed professional counselors in Michigan will continue to provide the services they’ve been providing for 30 years.
Dr. Irene Mass Ametrano was instrumental in getting the new law passed. She is a Professor and the Counseling Program Coordinator at Eastern Michigan University. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Michigan Mental Health Counselors’ Association (MMHCA) Public Policy and Licensure Committee. Dr. Ametrano has been working with issues regarding counselor licensure in Michigan since the start of her career. Her experience has been instrumental in getting the new bill passed. Dr. Ametrano and her MMHCA Public Policy and Licensure committee Co-Chair, Dr. Sara Sue Schaeffer, worked to introduce HB4325 in January of 2019. The bill was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate and signed into law.
As a counselor educator for over 30 years, Dr. Ametrano’s experience in the area of counselor preparation and program accreditation helped tremendously when testifying to the House Health Policy committee, the House Ways and Means committee, and the Senate Health Policy committee. Dr. Ametrano gave light to the educational requirements of the bill which would inevitably help the committees understand the specifics of the bill.
Chris DeBoer, MA, LPC, a graduate of EMU's counseling program, presented this award to Dr. Ametrano as a gift to commemorate the day HB 4325 became law.
Along with Dr. Ametrano’s efforts, the bill was supported by thousands around Michigan who passionately advocated for its passing. MMHCA led a statewide grassroots advocacy effort through emails, calls, and social media contact with state legislators. Many Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) attended the legislative committee hearings and even spoke in support of the bill, and then attended the session votes. The massive amount of well-coordinated effort is credited for the legislation’s swift and unanimous bipartisan approval in both the Michigan State House and Senate.
Public Act 96 of 2019 will ensure that mental health is prioritized in Michigan. As a result, thousands of counselors may continue their practice, clients remain cared for, and schools can feel confident knowing their students have local mental health professionals for ready reference. Dr. Ametrano states that this is “a great feeling of relief and accomplishment!” Her university, community, and state are all positively impacted by her dedication to this field.
About The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, The College of Education (COE) at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) continues to be one of the largest producers of educational personnel in the nation. The COE includes a comprehensive variety of programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral program level. Non-degree and certifications are also offered through the COE as well. The COE includes departments for teacher education, special education, and leadership & counseling. All of the professional education programs offered by EMU’s COE are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and are also approved by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The graduates the EMU produces are highly desired in the field, due to the strong reputation the COE has earned throughout their many established years. The COE has been recognized for its strong success rate by U.S. News and World Report’s: America’s Best Colleges.