State Legislative Update February 2015

 State Legislative Update
Prepared by AVMA Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
February 13, 2015
On Feb. 5, 2015, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law S 1870, requiring pet stores to make available to consumers certain information, including the name and address of the breeder and his or her USDA license number, as well as USDA inspection reports for the prior two years. Pet shops will be prohibited from offering for sale or purchase for resale any animal purchased from a breeder or broker who is not in compliance with state requirements, is not in possession of a current license from USDA or applicable state agency, has been cited on a USDA inspection report for a direct violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act or corresponding regulations during the two-year period prior to the purchase of the animal by the pet shop, or has been cited during that two-year period for three or more indirect violations of the federal law or corresponding regulations. Proponents of the new law are calling it the “toughest” in the nation for disclosing critical information to consumers regarding the sources of animals and eliminating some of the worst breeders and brokers from the supply chain.
Typical for the month of February, state legislatures are experiencing a frantic pace of activity. The following are some of the noteworthy bills introduced early in the 2015 sessions:
  • Arizona HB 2215 would provide a regulatory mechanism for non-veterinarian chiropractors to practice animal chiropractic, including education and certification requirements.
  • Arkansas HB 1390 would exempt veterinarians from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
  • Colorado HB 5022 would allow lay equine dentists to use modern tools in the performance of their duties.
  • Connecticut HB 6187 would establish a process for appointing an advocate to investigate and advocate for the welfare or custody of an animal that is subject of a civil or criminal court proceeding.
  • Hawaii SB 751/ HB 733 would establish requirements for the regulation of veterinary technicians and the practice of veterinary technology.
  • New Hampshire SB 31would remove from the definition of a “dispenser,” who must register with the controlled drug prescription program, a veterinarian who dispenses less than a 48-hour supply of a schedule II-IV controlled substance to a patient.
  • New Mexico HB 88 would authorize the board to impose a fine up to $5,000, plus administrative costs, on a person or entity practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
  • New York AB 1297 would prohibit declawing of cats or other animals except when necessary for a therapeutic purpose.
  • New York AB 3594 would regulate the issuance of insurance policies covering veterinary expenses, including disclosure requirements.
  • North Dakota HB 1184 would revise the definition of veterinarian-client-patient relationship so that a practicing veterinarian may be readily available, physically or electronically, for follow-up in the case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy.
  • Texas HB 859 would provide exemptions from the veterinary licensing law act for employees, volunteers or agents of animal shelters who provide nonsurgical veterinary care or treatment for the shelter under veterinary supervision or protocol.
Also, California SB 27, Maryland SB 463/SB 470, New York SB 201 and Oregon HB 2598 all propose various restrictions on nontherapeutic use of antibiotics for food-producing animals. 

Legal watch

U.S. Federal District Judge Stephen Wilson of the Central District of California struck down that state’s ban on the sale of foie gras, which took effect in July 2012 under a 2004 state law. The lawsuit was filed against the California Attorney General by foie gras producers in New York and Quebec, along with a California-based restaurant group. The judge concluded that the California law was pre-empted by the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, which gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture sole jurisdiction over the ingredients allowed in poultry products. However, the ban on the production of foie gras within the state was not challenged, as the plaintiffs were foie gras vendors, not producers. The California attorney general's office was reviewing the decision for a possible appeal to the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Regulatory watch

The Florida Department of Revenue amended its regulations to clarify that animal foods that are required by federal or state law to be dispensed only by a prescription are exempt from sales tax, as are animal foods which are therapeutic veterinary diets, as defined in the regulation. Animal foods which are not required to be dispensed only by a prescription and those that are not therapeutic veterinary diets are subject to tax, even when sold by a veterinarian.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture adopted final rules in several areas:
  •  Governing the care and well-being of livestock, including veterinary care, for beef cattle, bison, veal, dairy cattle, equine, swine, small ruminant and poultry. The rule adopts methods specified as acceptable for that species in the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Edition and states that prescription and extra-label medications are to be administered as directed by a licensed veterinarian with a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  • Establishing a list of prohibited dangerous wild animals, including caging requirements and permit fees.
  • Specifying the requirements for the West Virginia Spay Neuter Assistance Program, whose purpose is to have more dogs and cats sterilized and provide a rabies vaccination if the animal is not currently vaccinated.