State Legislative Analysis

 State Legislative Update: February 2016


This State Legislative Update includes summaries of select bills tracked by the AVMA's State Relations department through Feb. 15, 2016.

Welcome to the first AVMA State Legislative Update of 2016. As legislative sessions launch into full gear around the country, the AVMA has tracked nearly 500 pieces of legislation in the last six weeks. The topics of these bills range from stiffening penalties for animal abuse, cruelty and neglect to providing standards of care for animals.

States consider scope-of-practice, pharmacy issues

This session has already brought several scope-of-practice issues to the forefront. Legislators in two states – Indiana and Kansas – are considering proposals to remove equine dentistry from the practice of veterinary medicine, making this type of animal care a separate regulated profession. In Florida, a bill recently introduced would create a licensure for non-veterinarians to perform veterinary acupressure and massage. And in New Jersey, a pending bill would expand the scope of practice for physical therapists to treat animals. A Missouri proposal would put in place a certification program for euthanasia technicians, which would work under direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

A number of states are smoothing the way for veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal cruelty; a bill in Georgia, for example, would clarify that such reports would not violate confidentiality requirements. And Tennessee’s proposed veterinary practice act amendments would also include protection from liability for veterinarians who report suspected cases of abuse.

Two bills would make changes to language governing the veterinarian-client-patient relationship; in Georgia, the "sufficient knowledge of the animal" requirement would be broadened; it could be met by visiting "premises within an operation or production system where the animal or groups of animals are kept." In Maine, lawmakers are looking at a bill that would provide an exception to the state’s recently instituted VCPR requirement; veterinarians could give certain vaccines without examining the patient if the owner signs an “informed consent” waiver.

Maryland’s General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would provide an exception to state pharmacy law, specifying that it does not prohibit a licensed veterinarian from dispensing compounded preparations, provided by a pharmacy, for use in a companion animal, under specified circumstances. A pharmacy would be authorized to provide certain compounded preparations without a patient–specific prescription to a licensed veterinarian.

Another bill, in Massachusetts, would allow veterinarians to dispense compounded drugs for companion animals within a valid VCPR when a 120-hour supply or less is dispensed, it is an emergency, and timely access to a compounding pharmacy is not available.

After a brief hiatus, AVMA’s State Legislative Update returns to its usual monthly publication.

Here is February 2016 chart of significant pending bills and regulations from around the country.