Overview: Why a professional association?
By definition a professional association is “an association of persons having some common business interest, the purpose of which is to promote such common interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit.”
TAAOM is a non-profit trade association whose members share the common interest of promoting and protecting the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the State of Texas. This means looking out for our business interests, but also working to maintain a high level of standards and integrity in acupuncture education and training, and in the practice of acupuncture overall.
Your education and training represents a sizable investment of time and resources, and the role of your professional association is to protect that investment. In short, we organize as an association to pool our resources to promote our common interests.
Your professional association is the interface of your profession with government, the policy makers and regulatory agencies that define and impact you as a practitioner.
Governmental Affairs: Statutes and Rules
One of the most important ways any professional association promotes the common interests of its members is by monitoring issues in the legislative and regulatory arena, and by working to successfully pass legislation and regulations supportive of these interests and stop legislation and regulations that could have a negative impact.
Statutes are created by legislation, and rules are created by the various regulating agencies and boards to articulate and enforce statute. Understanding the difference between statutes and rules can be a little confusing since both have the weight of law, but the process of how each is created (or modified) is significantly different. Understanding and monitoring these processes are among the most important functions of a professional association.
Understanding and monitoring the legislative process
The Texas Legislature meets every odd year from January to May.
The legislative process is complicated, difficult to navigate,and generally speaking requires professional representation to navigate successfully, whether simply monitoring or attempting to enact change through legislation. And while it is important to engage the services of professional lobbyists, there is more to successful legislative strategy than that.
The groundwork for success in the legislature is built on relationships and maintaining a consistent presence and application of effort over time, and success in the legislature can look a lot of different ways. The passage of legislation is not the only measure of success. It is vitally important that our membership understand this.
Understanding and monitoring the rule making process
Notification of open meetings and proposed rules can be kept abreast of via the Texas Register. Monitoring the activities of the various state agencies that may affect our profession is an ongoing, year round activity.
The Texas Register
Established by the Texas Legislature in 1975, the Texas Register serves as the journal of state agency rulemaking for Texas. Information published in the Texas Register includes proposed, adopted, withdrawn and emergency rule actions, notices of state agency review of agency rules, governor's appointments, attorney general opinions, and miscellaneous documents such as requests for proposals. These rulemaking actions are codified into the Texas Administrative Code, also maintained by the Office of the Secretary of State.
Anyone can sign up to receive automatic email notification on the agencies of their choosing. This is not something only TAAOM board members should do. Any member who has an interest in being informed in a timely manner on the activities of various state agencies should sign up. Subscription information can be found here. At the very least, all members should at least know how to navigate the Texas Register to find information. The search page is here, and search guidelines here.