In July 2003, the House of Delegates approved Resolution 4, submitted by the Florida, California, Puerto Rico, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin VMAs. That resolution confirmed that the AVMA Constitution authorizes the Association "to provide needed assistance, when requested, to a state veterinary association engaged in the defense of their state veterinary practice act or responding to other state legislative initiatives that have the potential to diminish the role and scope of veterinary medicine on an interstate basis."
Resolution 4 also called for the AVMA to "make a commitment to provide review and guidance, scientific position papers and public relations support to a state veterinary medical association responding against detrimental state legislative issues having a potential to adversely effect veterinary medicine on an interstate basis."
To provide a mechanism for addressing that resolution, the Executive Board at its July 23, 2003, meeting established the Task Force on State Legislative and Regulatory Initiatives. On the basis of a survey it conducted of constituent organizations, conversations with veterinary leadership, and the counsel of a public policy expert, the task force believes that helping constituent organizations influence public policy is a desirable and achievable role for the AVMA to assume.
The task force developed a conceptual framework for this AVMA role and sought board approval. In April, the board approved this framework, including the following mission statement: "To influence public policy for the benefit of animal health and welfare, public health, and the veterinary profession."
The board went on to disapprove a related recommendation to hold and fund a Public Policy Symposium. It would have cost the AVMA $78,000 per year, for three years, for the expenses of one representative from each of the 68 organizations represented in the HOD. Because the constituent organizations are expected to be the primary beneficiaries, some board members favored asking them to share part of their travel costs. Other board members believed the symposium should be piggybacked onto the annual Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago in January.
Later in the meeting, AVMA President Jack O. Walther asked the board to reconsider the agenda item, but in the form of a substitute motion. He said there is a sense of urgency in arranging such a forum. The board agreed to reconsider, with Dr. Henry Childers (District I) saying, "It is important to give this one of the highest priorities, because this came out of a House of Delegates resolution."
The board approved the substitute motion to hold a Public Policy Symposium, and AVMA funding of $51,200 to include payment of half the travel and lodging expenses for one representative from each of the 68 organizations in the HOD. The AVMA will also pay half the travel expenses for the Student AVMA representative on the AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee.