Executive Board approves agenda for new congressional session
Posted on December 31, 2012
The AVMA Executive Board has approved positions on legislation from the recent 112th Congress that are expected to be reintroduced during the new session that begins in January, including funding for food safety programs and new protections for horses.
The agenda was proposed by the board’s Legislative Advisory Committee, which identified several bills and one House resolution lawmakers will likely see again in the current 113th congressional session.
The board designated the Horse Protection Act Amendments, the Know Before You Owe Act, and fiscal year 2014 appropriations for “active pursuit of passage,” meaning their enactment is a high priority for the AVMA.
The Horse Protection Act Amendments bill would, among other things, make soring illegal as well as ban using any boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed on the lower extremity of the leg for Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, or Racking Horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, or auctions. This past year, the AVMA and American Association of Equine Practitioners called for prohibiting the use of action devices and performance packages on Tennessee Walking Horses (see JAVMA
, Aug. 1, 2012, page 296
The Know Before You Owe Act aims to increase financial literacy among students and improve responsible lending practices. Additionally, the AVMA will work to stave off disproportionate cuts in FY 2014 to such programs as the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, and the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank while pursuing funding at appropriate levels.
The AVMA board approved listing two bills in the “support” category, meaning their passage is not a high priority but puts the Association on record as endorsing the bills. The Superfund Common Sense Act would amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 to exclude manure from the definition of “hazardous substance” and “pollutant or contaminant.” The Safeguarding American Agriculture Act would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize such activities as identifying career paths for agricultural specialists at Customs and Border Protection and developing a plan to more effectively recruit and retain qualified agriculture specialists.
Three bills were designated for AVMA “non-support”: the Compound 1080 and Sodium Cyanide Elimination Act; Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act; and legislation establishing the Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee. Their defeat is a low priority for the Association, but it is on record as not supporting their passage.
The Compound 1080 and Sodium Cyanide Elimination Act would prohibit the use, production, sale, importation, or exportation of sodium fluoroacetate, also known as Compound 1080, and the use of sodium cyanide in predator control devices. The bill was reviewed by three AVMA entities in addition to the Legislative Advisory Committee—the Animal Welfare Committee, Committee on Environmental Issues, and Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee. All opposed the legislation, citing the need for these compounds for predator control to protect small ruminant herds, already tight restrictions on use of these compounds, and lack of appropriate alternatives.
The Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act of 2011 would provide for the expansion of federal efforts concerning prevention, education, treatment, and research activities related to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, including the establishment of the Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee.
The AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, and Committee on Environmental Issues have recommended the AVMA not support the legislation. Part of their rationale is based on a belief in the adequacy of existing coordination among federal, state, and local public health agencies to investigate Lyme disease and on doubts that a new advisory committee in the Department of Health and Human Services would provide much benefit or improvement.
The Executive Board approved a designation of “no action” on the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act and a House resolution expressing Congress’ opposition to using carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, argon, or other gases to euthanize shelter animals. This classification means the AVMA has no recommendation or position on either initiative.
The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act would provide for certain requirements relating to the retirement, adoption, care, and recognition of military working dogs. The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee agreed with the Animal Welfare Committee’s assessment of the bill. While supporting the overarching goals of the legislation, the AWC had several concerns with certain provisions. For example, the bill changes the classification of military working dogs from “equipment” to “canine members of the armed forces.” This reclassification creates an ambiguity as to the dogs’ status as property, the committee stated, with potentially unintended consequences—including questions about whether these animals would then be sufficiently protected under existing neglect and cruelty statutes that appropriately hold their owners responsible for providing at least a minimal standard of care.
The House resolution, if passed, would express a sense of Congress being in opposition to the use of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, argon, or other gases to euthanize shelter animals and support for state laws that require the use of the more-humane, euthanasia-by-injection method. The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee recommendation concurred with the Animal Welfare Committee, which noted that although the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia state a preference for euthanizing shelter animals by injection, they allow the use of gases under well-controlled conditions.
The AVMA legislative agenda is posted at www.avma.org
under “Advocacy” in the “National Issues” section.