(a) There is hereby created a board whose duty it shall be to carry out the purposes and enforce the provisions of this Chapter, and which shall be known as the “North Carolina State Hearing Aid Dealers and Fitters Board.” The Board shall be composed of seven members. Four members who have been a licensed Hearing Aid Specialist for at least the preceding three years prior to appointment, shall be appointed by the Governor. These initial appointments are for the following terms: one for one year, one for two years, one for three years and one for four years. All appointments made on or after July 1, 1981, shall be for terms of three years.
One member shall be appointed by the Governor who shall be a physician practicing in North Carolina, preferably specializing in the field of otolaryngology. All appointments shall be for terms of three years.
One member, who shall be a person with hearing loss, shall be appointed by the Governor to represent the interest of hearing aid consumers. This initial appointment shall be for a term ending June 30, 2013. All appointments made on or after July 1, 2013, shall be for a term of three years.
One member shall be appointed by the Governor to represent the interest of the public at large. This member shall have no ties to the hearing aid business nor shall he be an audiologist. The Governor shall appoint the public member not later than July 1, 1981, to serve a term of three years.
All Board members serving on June 30, 1981, shall be eligible to complete their respective terms. No member appointed to a term on or after July 1, 1981, shall serve more than two complete consecutive terms.
Vacancies on the Board shall be filled by appointment of the Governor. Appointees shall serve the unexpired term of their predecessor in office and must be appointed from the same category as their predecessor in office. The members of the Board, before entering their duties, shall respectively take all oaths taken and prescribed for other State officers, in the manner provided by law, which oaths shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State, and the Board shall have a common seal.
(b) The Board shall choose, at the first regular meeting and annually thereafter, one of its members to serve as president and one as secretary and treasurer. A majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum. The Board shall meet at least once a year, the time and place of the annual meeting and any special meetings to be designated by the president. The secretary and treasurer of the Board shall keep a full record of its proceedings, including a current list of all licensees, which shall at all reasonable times be open to public inspection. The Board is authorized to employ an executive secretary and to provide such assistance as may be required to enable said Board to properly perform its duties.
(c) The Board shall:
(1) Authorize all disbursements necessary to carry out the provisions of this Chapter;
(2) Supervise and administer qualifying examinations to test and determine the knowledge and proficiency of applicants for licenses;
(3) Issue licenses to qualified persons who apply to the Board;
(4) Obtain audiometric equipment and facilities necessary to carry out the examination of applicants for licenses;
(5) Suspend or revoke licenses pursuant to this Chapter;
(6) Make and publish rules, including a code of ethics, that are necessary and proper to regulate hearing aid specialists and to carry out the provisions of this Chapter;
(7) Exercise jurisdiction over the hearing of complaints, charges of malpractice including corrupt or unprofessional conduct, and allegations of violations of the Board's rules that are made against any fitter and seller of hearing aids in North Carolina;
(8) Require the periodic inspection and calibration of audiometric testing equipment of persons who are fitting and selling hearing aids;
(9) In connection with any matter within the jurisdiction of the Board, summon and subpoena and examine witnesses under oath and to compel their attendance and the production of books, papers, or other documents or writings deemed by the Board to be necessary or material to the inquiry. Each summons or subpoena shall be issued under the hand of the secretary and treasurer or the president of the Board and shall have the force and effect of a summons or subpoena issued by a court of record. Any witness who shall refuse or neglect to appear in obedience thereto or to testify or produce books, papers, or other documents or writings required shall be liable to contempt charges. The Board shall pay to any witness subpoenaed before it the fees and per diem as paid witnesses in civil actions in the superior court of the county where such hearing is held;
(10) Inform the Attorney General of any information or knowledge it acquires regarding any “price-fixing” activity whatsoever in connection with the sales and service of hearing aids;
(11) Establish and enforce rules to guarantee that a full refund will be made by the seller of a hearing aid to the purchaser when presented with a written medical opinion of an otolaryngologist that the purchaser's hearing cannot be improved by the use of a hearing aid;
(12) Fund, establish, conduct, approve and sponsor instructional programs for registered apprentices and for persons who hold a license as well as for persons interested in obtaining adequate instruction or programs of study to qualify them for registration to the extent that the Board deems such instructional programs to be beneficial or necessary;
(13) Register persons serving as apprentices as set forth in G.S. 93D-9 ;
(14) Have the power to set and collect fees in accordance with Chapter 150B of the General Statutes for the items listed in this subdivision and for other items for which this Chapter gives the Board the authority to set a fee:
a. For a continuing education make-up class provided by the Board, a fee not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) per person for each day of instruction. The Board may not offer a make-up class that is longer than two days;
b. For a license examination preparation course provided by the Board, a fee not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) per person for each day of instruction. The Board may not offer an examination preparation course that is longer than three days;
c. For approval of a continuing education program provider, a fee not to exceed forty dollars ($40.00);
d. For verifying and recording attendance at a continuing education program not provided by the Board, a fee not to exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) per licensee per program;
e. For providing a voluntary two-day apprentice training workshop, a fee not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100.00) per person, and for providing a three-day voluntary apprentice training workshop, a fee not to exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per person;
f. For administering an examination, a fee of three hundred dollars ($300.00); and
g. For the registration of a Registered Sponsor not otherwise licensed under this Chapter, a fee of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per annum;
(15) Adopt annually a balanced budget prior to the beginning of its fiscal year, against which expenditures shall be reviewed throughout the fiscal year to ensure that expenditures during the year do not exceed receipts for that year plus amounts held by the Board in reserve. Except for monies from charges for photocopying and similar charges, the Board's receipts shall consist of and be limited to funds derived from fees expressly authorized by law; and
(16) Register any person holding a valid permanent license as an audiologist under Article 22 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes, who holds a doctoral degree in Audiology and who makes an application to serve as a Registered Sponsor to apprentice as set forth in G.S. 93D-9 , but who is not otherwise subject to licensure by the Board.
(d) Members of the Board shall be entitled to travel, per diem, and other expenses authorized by G.S. 93B-5 . The expenses shall be paid from the fees and assessments received by the Board under the provisions of this Chapter. No part of these expenses or any other expenses of the Board, in any manner whatsoever, shall be paid out of the State treasury. All moneys received in excess of expense allowance and mileage, as above provided, shall be held by the secretary-treasurer as a special fund for meeting other expenses of the Board and carrying out the provisions of this Chapter.
(e) The Board shall make an annual report of its proceedings in accordance with G.S. 93B-2 .
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