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      RS 37:1042     


§1042. Louisiana State Board of Optometry Examiners; appointment; terms of members; protected action and communication

            A. The Louisiana State Board of Optometry Examiners is created within the Louisiana Department of Health and is subject to the provisions of R.S. 36:803. The board shall consist of five members who are actively licensed optometrists in good standing with the board and who have practiced optometry in this state for seven years and one consumer member.

            B.(1) One licensed optometrist member of the board shall be appointed by the governor from each of the five board districts in accordance with this Subsection. The governor shall ensure that his appointments demonstrate race, gender, ethnic, and geographical diversity.

            (2) The board districts shall be comprised of the following parishes:

            (a) District One shall be comprised of the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington.

            (b) District Two shall be comprised of the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Lafourche, Livingston, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and Terrebonne.

            (c) District Three shall be comprised of the parishes of East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Lafayette, Pointe Coupee, St. Martin, St. Mary, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

            (d) District Four shall be comprised of the parishes of Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Catahoula, Concordia, Evangeline, Grant, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, St. Landry, Vermilion, and Vernon.

            (e) District Five shall be comprised of the parishes of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, DeSoto, East Carroll, Franklin, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Richland, Tensas, Union, Webster, West Carroll, and Winn.

            (3) When a vacancy occurs in the membership of the board representing one of the five districts for any reason, including expiration of term, removal, resignation, death, disability, or disqualification, the following nominating process shall be followed:

            (a) The optometrist making the nomination shall be a resident of the district where the vacancy occurs.

            (b) The optometrist nominee shall be a resident of the district where the vacancy occurs.

            (c) Nomination ballots shall be returned to the board office at least sixty days prior to a vacancy occurring by an expiring term.

            (d) Nomination ballots shall be returned to the board office at least thirty days following a vacancy occurring by death, resignation, inability to act, or other cause.

            (4)(a) The secretary of the board shall transmit to each licensed optometrist, by United States mail, to the last known address of the optometrist indicated in the board's records, a nomination ballot. The ballot, or an accompanying communication, shall indicate the date, time, and place for the counting of ballots. At a gathering open to the public, the ballots shall be counted openly by the secretary or by one or more individuals designated by the president. The secretary shall certify to the governor the names of the three nominees receiving the highest number of nominations. From the names submitted to him in this manner, the governor may select and appoint one eligible individual to fill the vacancy in question.

            (b) In the absence of the secretary, or in the event of his inability or failure to act, the duties of the secretary with respect to the mailing and counting of ballots and the certification to the governor shall be performed by the president of the board.

            (5) The successor to each member of the board appointed from a board district shall be appointed from the district having the same number designation as the district from which the member who is being replaced was appointed.

            (6) District representatives shall be initially appointed as follows:

            (a) A representative from District Four to fill a vacancy in the position expiring in June 2022.

            (b) A representative from District One to fill a vacancy in the position expiring in June 2023.

            (c) A representative from District Five to fill a vacancy in the position expiring in June 2024.

            (d) A representative from District Three to fill a vacancy in the position expiring in June 2025.

            (e) A representative from District Two to fill a vacancy in a position expiring in June 2026.

            C.(1) The consumer member shall be selected from the state at large and appointed by the governor. Any person interested in serving as the consumer member may apply directly to the office of the governor. The consumer member of the board shall possess all of the following qualifications:

            (a) Is a citizen of the United States and has been a resident of Louisiana for at least one year immediately prior to appointment.

            (b) Has attained the age of majority.

            (c) Shall not have ever been licensed by any of the licensing boards identified in R.S. 36:259(A), nor shall he have a spouse who has ever been licensed by a board identified in R.S. 36:259(A).

            (d) Has never been convicted of a felony.

            (e) Shall not have nor shall ever have had a material financial interest in the healthcare profession.

            (2) The consumer member shall be a full voting member of the board with all rights and privileges conferred on board members, except that the consumer member shall not participate in the grading of individual examinations.

            D.(1) Each appointment by the governor shall be subject to Senate confirmation. The term of each member shall be five years, except that no person shall be appointed to serve more than three full terms on the board, whether the service is consecutive or not. A vacancy occurring during the term of a member shall be filled for the unexpired term by an optometrist possessing the qualifications for board membership, nominated and appointed in accordance with Subsection B of this Section. A vacancy in the consumer position shall be filled with another consumer.

            (2) No member of the board shall hold an elected or appointed position in an optometry professional association at any time during the term of his appointment to the board. The provisions of this Paragraph shall not be construed to prohibit a member of the board from holding an elected or appointed position in an association for regulatory boards of optometry.

            E. There shall be no liability on the part of and no action for damages against any of the following persons:

            (1) Any member of the board, or its agents or employees, for any action undertaken or performed by such person within the scope of the duties, powers, and functions of the board or such examining committee as provided for in this Chapter when such person is acting without malice and in the reasonable belief that the action taken by him is warranted.

            (2) Any person providing information to the board, its agents or employees, whether a witness, or otherwise, unless such information is false and the person providing it knew that such information was false.

            F. In any suit brought against the board, its employees or agents, or any person or entity providing information to the board, when the defendant substantially prevails in such suit, the court shall, at the conclusion of the action, award to the defendant and assess against the claimant the cost of defending the suit attributable to such claim, including reasonable attorney fees, if the claim, or the claimant's conduct during the litigation of the claim, was either frivolous, unreasonable, without foundation, or in bad faith. For the purpose of this Subsection, a defendant shall not be considered to have substantially prevailed when the claimant obtains an award for damages or permanent injunctive or declaratory relief.

            Amended by Acts 1974, No. 442, §1; Acts 1977, No. 684, §11; Acts 2003, No. 987, §1; Acts 2011, No. 149, §1; Acts 2018, No. 515, §2; Acts 2022, No. 313, §1, eff. June 10, 2022.

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