Tennant's office released a statement about the emergency rules Tuesday evening.
Jake Glance, communications director for Tennant, wrote that the Secretary of State's office examines each emergency rule to see if it meets some "very specific guidelines." Emergency rules are to be necessary for "the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or welfare," he wrote.
"As Secretary of State, I may disagree with a particular rule but I must follow the process laid out in state code," Tennant said in the statement. "I cannot deny an emergency rule simply because I disagree with it or don't like it. The only guiding factor when it comes to emergency rules is what state code says. And I will always follow state code."
Dr. Clair St. Peter-Pipkin, a certified behavior analyst and assistant professor of behavior analysis at West Virginia University, said the rule was unfair because behavior analysts perform different work than psychologists.
To become licensed psychologists, Pipkin said behavior analysts would have to complete coursework "way outside the scope" of the requirements of their profession, like administering IQ tests.
"That's OK because those aren't the kinds of things we do," she said.
Pipkin said behavior analysts undergo a rigorous certification process.
Before becoming certified, they are required to have graduated from a Behavior Analyst Certification Board-approved institution with a bachelor's or master's degree in behavior analysis or related major.
Pipkin said applicants also must have 1,000 field experience hours.
"It's no fly-by-night, sham sort of certification," she said.
In their submission letter to Tennant, the Board of Examiners of Psychologists wrote the emergency rule would "provide oversight to unlicensed individuals who are practicing psychology without the required education and training."
"There is a relatively small, but most likely soon to increase, group of individuals engaging in the practice of psychology who are not licensed and who do not meet the minimum education and training requirements for licensure," the board wrote in its request to Tennant.
"They are not prepared to practice independently, lack oversight and constitute a serious and immediate concern to public safety," the request continued.
Pipkin sees other problems with the emergency rule.
"The issue with that is, there aren't a ton of psychologists in the state who have any training (in autism)," she said.
Pipkin said there are only 26 certified behavior analysts in the state. WVU started a master's program for behavior analysis in 2008 to try to increase that number, specifically recruiting students who want to stay in West Virginia.
With the rule in place, Pipkin was concerned students might travel across state lines to work if they're not allowed to practice independently in West Virginia.
"The inroads we've made . . . (would be) majorly undermined," she said.
Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.har...@dailymail.com.