State Legislative Analysis

 State Legislative Update: April 2016

This State Legislative Update includes summaries of select bills tracked by the AVMA through April 15, 2016.

Now that about one-third of state legislatures have adjourned for 2016, the number of bills being introduced across the country has slowed down. But for legislatures that are still in session, or meet year-round, some intense debates are still going strong.

In Connecticut, two significant bills of interest to the veterinary profession are still in play. SB 228, which would allow for noneconomic damages when an animal is intentionally injured or killed, continues to be debated in public and committee hearings.

A separate Connecticut bill, HB 5344, would permit “animal advocates” to be appointed in certain cases involving animal cruelty or custody. Judges could appoint a volunteer, from a list of attorneys and law students provided by the agriculture commissioner, to advocate for an animal's best interests or the interests of justice in criminal proceedings relating to (1) animal cruelty or fighting, (2) a cruelly treated or neglected animal's seizure by an animal control officer, or (3) an animal's welfare or custody.

Compounding continues to be a hot topic, with Colorado lawmakers considering a bill that would make that state the 11th in the nation to allow veterinarians to dispense from office stock. The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy is considering two changes to compounding rules, which would also apply to veterinarians and pharmacies that serve them. Under the proposed changes, veterinarians would be limited to using in-state compounding pharmacies for their needs. A public hearing will happen at the end of this month.

City of Chicago aldermen release “no kill” goal

Two members of the Chicago City Council made headlines last month when they introduced a resolution that urges the nation’s third-largest city to become a “no kill” zone in which animals held at animal-control facilities are euthanized only in cases of terminal illness (not due to lack of space). Proposed strategies associated with this goal include increasing transfers to animal rescues or no-kill shelter organizations.

Here is the April 2016 chart of significant pending bills and regulations from around the country. (Session status is current as of April 26 and courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures.)