Resolution, federal bills part of expanded legislative priority list
posted December 18, 2009
Wildlife, assistance dogs, and military veterinarians are just some of the subjects of bills added to the AVMA's federal legislative agenda.
The Executive Board approved various AVMA responses to a slate of bills identified by its Legislative Advisory Committee.
Initiatives designated for "active pursuit of passage" by the Association in the 111th Congress are as follows:
- A congressional resolution honoring the 250th world anniversary of the veterinary profession. In 2011, the profession will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the world's first veterinary school, in Lyon, France. The congressional resolution would acknowledge the contributions of the veterinary profession while recognizing the importance of this momentous milestone.
- A congressional resolution recognizing National Dog Bite Prevention Week in 2010.
- Legislation authorizing commission of Army Reserve Veterinary Corps officers at the rank of captain. Active-duty veterinarians entering the Army Veterinary Corps are commissioned into the corps at the rank of captain. Army Reserve Veterinary Corps officers are, however, commissioned at the rank of first lieutenant unless they get credit for their years in veterinary medicine after graduation. First lieutenants are expected to perform the same duties as captains; they do not have the same authority to carry out these tasks, however. Additionally, military pay is related to rank, which is consistent with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division's current federal equity in pay initiative.
The following bills were designated for "support":
- The Wounded Warrior K-9 Corps Act (H.R. 3266/S.1495) would establish a grant program to encourage the use of assistance dogs by certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans.
- The Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act (H.R. 1454) requires the U.S. Postal Service to issue a Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal stamp. Proceeds from the sale of each stamp would be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help fund operations supported by the Multinational Species Conservation Funds.
- The Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480/S. 3610) amends the Fur Products Labeling Act to eliminate the exemption to fur labeling requirements for products containing small amounts of fur. It would also permit states to enforce more restrictive labeling requirements.
- The Laboratory Surge Capacity Act (H.R. 1150) authorizes the secretary of Homeland Security to award grants on a competitive basis to regional biocontainment laboratories for maintaining surge capacity that can be used to respond to acts of bioterrorism or outbreaks of infectious diseases, and for other purposes.
- The Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act (S. 425) would authorize a food traceability system as well as allow for mandatory food recalls in the absence of voluntary recalls.
- The Food Safety Rapid Response Act (S. 1269) contains three major provisions: The bill directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance the nation's foodborne disease surveillance system, directs the CDC to provide support and expertise to state health agencies and laboratories for their investigations of foodborne disease, and establishes regional food safety centers of excellence.
- The Humanity and Pets Partnered through the Years Act (H.R. 3501) amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax deduction, up to $3,500 per year, for pet care expenses, including veterinary care. The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee sees a number of shortcomings in the bill, such as a lack of a thorough and robust definition section, but has instructed the Governmental Relations Division to work with the bill's sponsor to ensure that the AVMA's concerns are addressed.
- The Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act (H.R. 556) requires the secretary of the Interior, acting through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to carry out a recovery program for southern sea otter populations along the coast of California.
The following bills were designated for "nonsupport" by the Executive Board:
- The Unsafe Meat and Poultry Recall Act (S. 1527) would amend the federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act to authorize the secretary of Agriculture to order the recall of meat and poultry that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise unsafe. A number of AVMA committees that reviewed the bill concluded the current system of voluntary recall is effective.
- The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326) would prevent, among other things, invasive research on great apes and prohibit federal funding of such research. The AVMA Animal Welfare Committee noted that the bill does not allow for invasive research in zoos to improve great ape health and conservation efforts, and no funding mechanism is identified for the long-term care of these animals. As a result, the AWC recommended "nonsupport," and the Legislative Advisory Committee concurred.
- H.R. 3215 would authorize the secretary of the Interior to allow individuals to hunt and kill Burmese pythons within the Everglades National Park. The Legislative Advisory Committee agreed with the assessment of the AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues that although the Burmese python is an invasive species, "hunting by the general public will interfere with instead of facilitate current and proposed control measures being taken against this introduced species by the National Park Service and by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."
- The Restoring Our American Mustangs Act (H.R. 1018/S.1579) is aimed at managing populations of wild, free-roaming horses and burros. Although the Legislative Advisory Committee agrees with the intent of the bill, the committee noted that the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, Committee on Environmental Issues, and Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee had problems with the proposal. The lack of a clear management plan within this bill, in addition to seemingly contradictory language, raised a number of animal health and welfare concerns, for example.
And finally, the board approved recommendations of "no action" on two bills pertaining to Asian carp:
- The Eradicating Asian Carp in the Great Lakes Study Act (H.R. 51) is predominantly a fisheries management and wildlife issue, requiring no action by the AVMA, the board determined, whereas the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (H.R. 3173/ S.1421) contains insufficient details for effective prevention or control and could lead to ineffective regulations or programs.
The Association's legislative and regulatory agendas are posted on the AVMA Web site, www.avma.org, in the "Advocacy" section.
The AVMA Government Action Center makes it easy to contact elected officials about issues.
Visit www.avma.org and under "Advocacy" click on "Get involved," then on "Government Action Center."