State Legislative Update - January 2013

State Legislative Update
Prepared by Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
AVMA Communications Division
January 10, 2013
State Legislative Chart January 2013
As state legislatures gear up to go back to work in the New Year, governors continue to sign significant pieces of legislation passed in the waning moments of 2012. 
After seven years of debate, legislation was signed in Ohio to provide a regulatory framework for the commercial breeding of dogs. SB 130 details various licensing requirements and standards of care for dog-breeding kennels, high-volume breeders, dog retailers, and animal rescues. A seven-member commercial dog-breeding advisory board, which will include a veterinarian in addition to the state veterinarian, will be created. The bill was amended to grant the Department of Agriculture authority to contract with local veterinarians to perform routine inspections. A later amendment limits an attending veterinarian’s inspections to no more than on a bi-annual basis.
The other newly signed law is Michigan HB 358, which includes animal fighting as a predicate offense in the definition of criminal “racketeering.”  In Michigan, the term means committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or aiding or abetting, soliciting, coercing or intimidating a person to commit an offense for financial gain.
A review of the various veterinary practice and animal health issues state lawmakers considered in 2012 is available here. Legislators will likely tackle many of the same issues this year, especially in the areas of animal welfare, pharmacy and unauthorized practice. 
Next month we will detail several of the bills introduced at the beginning of the 2013 legislative sessions.
Regulatory watch
The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners issued a new definition of “dentistry” while addressing the duties and practice limitations of registered veterinary technicians. The board also clarified that a veterinarian does not need to have a controlled substances registration from either the federal Drug Enforcement Administration or the Texas Department of Public Safety, if the registration is not required by other state or federal laws. 
The Maryland Department of Health and Hygiene implemented rules governing the state’s recently-enacted prescription monitoring program, which excludes veterinarians from reporting requirements.
Court watch
U.S. District Court Judge George Smith upheld Ohio’s new law restricting ownership and possession of dangerous wild animals. The new law was enacted after a man released dozens of wild creatures he owned from enclosures, including lions and tigers, and then committed suicide. The judge recognized that some businesses may be negatively affected by the law and that some owners may not be able to keep the animals they currently own, but he ultimately ruled that owners challenging the law failed to prove that constitutional rights were violated. According to the judge’s opinion, the case came down to the public interest and protecting the public from potential dangers of private ownership of wild animals. The seven owners who sued the state were disappointed by the decision and plan to appeal, according to their attorney. The owners contended that the new regulations force them to join private associations and possibly give up their animals without compensation. They also challenged a requirement that animals be implanted with microchips before being registered with the state. The new law requires current owners who want to keep their animals to obtain permits by Jan. 1, 2014. Sanctuaries, research institutions and facilities accredited by certain national zoo groups are exempt. 
Antifreeze bittering agreement
The Consumer Specialty Products Association and the lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States announced an agreement to voluntarily add a bitter flavoring agent to antifreeze and engine coolant manufactured for sale for the consumer market in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The move was designed to prevent animals and children from being poisoned by the sweet-tasting liquid. Several states have previously passed legislation to accomplish this goal.
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.