Idaho House 2-5-20 full size

The Idaho House meets on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. House members passed legislation to allow optometrists to perform some laser eye surgeries, over objections from opthamologists.

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The eyes had it Wednesday on a bill to let optometrists perform laser eye surgery after meeting some examination and experience requirements, writes Post Register reporter Nathan Brown. The Idaho House voted 58-11 Wednesday to pass HB 317, which supporters said would increase access to eye care in rural areas. Opponents, including many opthamologists who packed the House Health & Welfare committee room to testify against it, said it would lead to optometrists performing procedures for which they weren’t qualified. The state Bureau of Occupational Licenses proposed the bill.

The bill would align Idaho with six states that have expanded scope of practices for optometrists. More than a dozen states have recently opposed similar expansions, the Twin Falls Times-News reports.

Six out of the House’s 56 Republicans voted against the bill, and five of the 13 Democrats. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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