Bill similar to failed state question moves forward at Oklahoma Capitol

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure that was rejected by voters in November may still have a chance to see the light of day.

State Question 793 would have allowed eye care facilities inside large retail stores, like Walmart and Target.

If approved by a majority of voters in November, SQ 793 would have amended the state constitution to allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retailers and allow the legislature to regulate them. Currently, Oklahoma law prohibits getting eyes examined and filling eyeglasses prescription within the same store.

Currently, 47 other states already have eye care facilities inside retailers. Oklahoma is one of only three states that prohibit optometrists from opening practices in commercial settings.

Although the measure was defeated by voters in November, a Senate bill is giving it new life.

Senate Bill 902, authored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, recently passed the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee.

The measure specifically adds that optometrists can “practice optometry within or adjacent to a retail store, regardless whether the retail store derives income from the sale of prescription optical goods and materials” It would also allow an optometrist to “rent a separate area or room within a retail store to practice optometry, regardless whether the separate area or room is directly accessible from within the retail store.”

David told the Tulsa World that her bill is similar to the state question, but has a few differences.

It would prohibit corporations from hiring optometrists directly. Instead, doctors would have to open their own practice inside a big box store.

Also, the bill would simply change a statute instead of creating a constitutional amendment.

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