State Legislative Update April 2013

State Legislative Update
Prepared by Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
AVMA Communications Division
April 16, 2013
 
 
State Legislative Update April 2013
 
New state laws on horse slaughter, rabies vaccines and compounding
 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law HB 1999, which continues the existing ban on the sale of horse meat for consumption in the state but allows regulated horse slaughter under certain conditions. This legislation reverses the state’s 50-year old ban on horse slaughter for human consumption. Horse processing has not taken place anywhere in the United States since 2007, when a combination of legislation and court decisions led to the closing of the last remaining horse processing plants in Texas and Illinois. Plant developments have been proposed in several states since Congress passed legislation last year that did not specifically deny the USDA funding to carry out inspections.
 
In a written statement, Gov. Fallin said she signed the legislation in part due to the neglect of aged horses and the shipping of animals to foreign plants for slaughter, “where they are processed in potentially inhumane conditions that are not regulated by the U.S. government.” She added, “Those of us who care about the wellbeing of horses cannot be satisfied with a status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, or that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries.”
 
Other bills recently signed into law include Virginia HB 1859, which requires a local governing body to hold a rabies clinic at least once every two years rather than the previous requirement of once per year. In addition, Virginia HB 2312 clarifies the definition of “compounding” and adds a requirement for a current inspection report for registration or renewal of a registration for a nonresident pharmacy.
 
Arizona HB 2137 includes compounding in the definition of “dispense” as it pertains to veterinarians delivering prescription drugs.
 
Utah has a new law, SB 21, which makes significant changes to the state’s regulation of professional services corporations and partnerships.
 
In Minnesota, the governor’s budget no longer includes a proposed sales tax on veterinary services.
 
Regulatory update
 
The Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine enhanced the requirements related to limited-service veterinary clinics that provide services such as vaccination and preventative procedures for parasitic control. The new rules also address medical records and provision of emergency contact information to consumers to facilitate after-hour emergency care.
 
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board made several changes to its rules, including allowing ritual slaughter as an acceptable form of euthanasia. The board also approved an exemption for using a non-approved method of euthanasia to prevent a threat to public safety from an animal regulated under the agriculture law. The amended rules also provide standards for management of dairy cattle. In addition, effective Jan. 1, 2018, tail docking will only be allowed to be performed by a licensed veterinarian and only if the procedure is determined to be medically necessary.
 
Court watch
 
The Texas Supreme Court issued a long-awaited opinion in Medlen v. Strickland, refusing to allow noneconomic damages for loss of a pet in a case involving a local municipal shelter. The high court reversed the judgment of a state court of appeals. The complete opinion can be found at  http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2013/apr/120047.pdf.   
 
The Texas VMA, AVMA and several other organizations filed amicus briefs with the court. The opinion repeatedly referred to public policy arguments raised in those briefs.  
 
The plaintiffs in the Medlen case argued that a pet owner should be entitled to loss of “intrinsic” value for the sentimental loss of their property, much like courts allow for loss of a rare family heirloom. The court, while sympathetic to the Medlens’ loss, refused to overturn long-standing precedent in the law governing personal injury and damages. We pulled several quotes from  the opinion that we find especially persuasive:
  •  “We acknowledge the grief of those whose companions are negligently killed. Relational attachment is unquestionable. But it is also uncompensable.”
  •  “True, a beloved companion dog is not a fungible, inanimate object like, say, a toaster. The term ‘property’ is not a pejorative but a legal descriptor, and its use should not be misconstrued as discounting the emotional attachment that pet owners undeniably feel. Nevertheless, under established legal doctrine, recovery in pet-death cases is, barring legislative reclassification, limited to loss of value, not loss of relationship.”
  • “An owner’s attachment to a beloved pet is different than a person’s sentimental feeling for an heirloom. Pets afford ‘here-and-now benefits’—company, recreation, protection, etc.—unlike a passed-down heirloom kept around chiefly to commemorate past events or passed family members.”
  • “Permitting sentiment-based damages for destroyed heirloom property portends nothing resembling the vast public-policy impact of allowing such damages in animal-tort cases.”
  • “Loss of companionship, the gravamen of the Medlens’ claim, is fundamentally a form of personal-injury damage, not property damage.”
  • “Where a dog’s market value is unascertainable, the correct damages measure is the dog’s ‘special or pecuniary value’ (that is, its actual value)—the economic value derived from its “usefulness and services,” not value drawn from companionship or other non-commercial considerations.”
  • “We decline to recognize a new cause of action, so we need not calibrate the public-policy impact of such claims (something legislators are better equipped to do). But, were we to consider that analysis, we could not overlook two legal-policy impacts: (1) the anomaly of elevating ‘man’s best friend’ over multiple valuable human relationships; and (2) the open-ended nature of such liability.”
 
Kansas legislative task force recommends prescription monitoring program exemption
 
The Kansas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Task Force reached the conclusion that veterinarians should not be included in the state’s PMP. The program was approved in 2008, but stipulated a five-year study to determine whether or not veterinarians should be included in it. The PMP requires the electronic reporting twice monthly of controlled-substance prescriptions written by physicians and designed to prevent “doc hopping” or “doc shopping.” The Task Force, comprised of representatives from the Kansas VMA, the Kansas Board of Veterinary Examiners and the Kansas Board of Pharmacy, recommended to the PMP Advisory Committee that veterinarians not be included in the program in Kansas, based on the experience of the Kansas Board of Pharmacy in managing the program for the last four years and the same recommendation made recently by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy to the Minnesota Legislature.
 
The link at the top or bottom of this page will take you to the latest chart of significant pending bills and regulations from around the country.