State Legislative Update July/August 2015

​July/August 2015

Prepared by AVMA State Affairs

Newly adopted laws

Even as many state legislatures are in summer recess or have adjourned, we still can report a few significant new laws since the last update.
Maine LD 814 became law when the legislature voted to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto. The measure makes several important changes to the state’s Veterinary Practice Act. Highlights include:
  • The definition of practice of veterinary medicine no longer includes microchip implants and embryo transfer.
  • A new provision states that the practice of veterinary medicine must occur within an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), as defined. A veterinarian who in good faith renders or attempts to render emergency care to a patient when a client cannot be identified and a VCPR is not established is not subject to disciplinary sanctions for this reason only.
  • A change was made to the definitions of “direct” and “indirect” supervision by a veterinarian.
  • The practice of veterinary technology is defined and language outlining the duties of licensed veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants is updated.
  • Upon the request by the state veterinarian to the state board, a veterinarian licensed in another state may practice in the state for a period not to exceed 30 days without a state license or permit.
  • The prohibition against a veterinarian’s association for the joint practice of veterinary medicine with any person, corporation or partnership not licensed to practice veterinary medicine is removed.
Connecticut HB 5707 was also signed into law. It requires research facilities that keep cats and dogs for research purposes to offer animals that are no longer needed after the completion of research or testing for adoption by an animal adoption or animal rescue organization.  This legislation is patterned after recent laws passed in Minnesota and Nevada.
Illinois SB 1827 makes the state the 36th in the nation to specify that, consistent with the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, veterinarians must honor a client’s request for a prescription in lieu of dispensing a drug when a VCPR exists and the veterinarian has determined that the drug is medically necessary.
Rhode Island H 5585 provides that a dog seized as a result of dog fighting or unprovoked attacks upon humans will be placed in the care of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Oregon HB 2474 requires any veterinary facility offering services related to the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry to register with the State Veterinary Medical Examining Board.
Washington SB 5501 authorizes law enforcement officers to enter a vehicle or other enclosed space to remove an animal believed to be suffering from exposure to extreme temperatures or lack of water or ventilation. The newly-signed legislation also broadens the offense of animal fighting to include species other than dogs and chickens. 

Regulatory watch

The Farm Foundation is offering 12 workshops across the United States on the stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. These regional workshops are an opportunity for livestock producers, feed suppliers and veterinarians to gain a comprehensive understanding of two Guidance for Industry issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the use of medically- important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, as well as the FDA's revised Veterinary Feed Directive rule (reported in the June State Legislative Update). 
The remaining workshop schedule is as follows:
  • Aug. 25 in Birmingham, AL
  • Sept. 9 in Flagstaff, AZ
  • Sept. 11 in Amarillo, TX
  • Sept. 16 in Ames, IA
  • Sept. 28 in Denver, CO
  • Oct. 6 in Davis, CA
  • Oct. 13 in Rapid City, SD
  • Oct. 15 in Twin Falls, ID
  • Oct. 22 in Lexington, KY

Details on each location will be available on the Farm Foundation website

Legal watch

On July 10, 2015, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled against a writ of habeas corpus for chimpanzees. The case, Nonhuman Rights Project v. Stanley, filed by famed animal rights attorney Stephen Wise, sought to establish legal rights on behalf of two chimpanzees currently located at Stony Brook University. In her decision, Justice Jaffee defined “persons” as those who have "rights, duties, and obligations" and noted that animals are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.

The Nonhuman Rights Project had argued the chimps have legal personhood because of their complex cognitive abilities, self-awareness and capacity for empathy. The group’s petition had sought transfer of the chimps to a Florida animal sanctuary. The New York Attorney General’s office, arguing for Stony Brook, argued that giving habeas rights to chimps could produce disastrous results. “Any such extension of the writ could set a precedent for the release of other animals held in captivity, whether housed at a zoo, in an educational institution, on a farm, or owned as a domesticated pet, and enmesh New York courts in continuing litigation,” the Attorney General’s office argued in a brief. The Nonhuman Rights Project plans to appeal.

AVMA participates in National Conference of State Legislatures meeting

On Aug. 3-6, AVMA exhibited at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ 41st annual Legislative Summit in Seattle, Wash. Approximately 5,000 state legislators and legislative staffers attended the meeting to exchange information and gain knowledge to take back to their respective states. For the past 13 years, the AVMA presented a booth in the exhibit hall and had significant interaction with legislators and legislative staff on many veterinary-related issues. This year, the topic of “veterinary compounding” generated a lot of discussion. The goal of the booth was to help educate legislators and staff on public policy that affects the profession and promote the AVMA and state veterinary medical associations as vital sources of information when these topics are considered in legislatures. Several veterinarians from the local area joined AVMA staff at the booth to talk to meeting attendees.