State Legislative Update May 2015


May 2015

Prepared by AVMA Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs

Newly adopted laws

With several legislatures adjourning, governors signed into law a number of veterinary-related bills in recent days. These include:
  • Colorado HB 1187 authorizes the state board of veterinary medicine to require a veterinarian to submit to a mental health examination, if it has reasonable cause to believe that the person is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety due to a mental illness or condition or excessive use of alcohol, a habit-forming drug, or a controlled substance. Authorizes the board to enter into a confidential agreement with the veterinarian to limit his or her practice based on restrictions imposed by the illness, condition, or disorder.
  • Delaware SB 8 exempts veterinarians from the limitation that no practitioner may dispense controlled substances beyond the amount deemed medically necessary for a 72-hour supply.
  • Indiana HB 508 excludes equine massage therapy from the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine. The new law defines equine massage therapy and provides that it does not include prescribing a drug, performing surgery, chiropractic or acupuncture, or diagnosing a medical condition. The new language also provides exemptions from various prescription requirements, such as a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR), for livestock or an animal immunized by its owner. An individual may not immunize an animal for a fee unless the individual is a veterinarian.
  • Iowa HF 525 specifically allows a professional limited liability company, a partnership of veterinarians or a professional corporation to provide veterinary medicine services.
  • New Mexico HB 415 provides for an optional tax refund contribution to a newly created statewide spay-neuter program for dogs and cats.
  • Oklahoma HB 1403 provides a specific time frame by which owners are to reclaim companion animals following a declared federal disaster or state emergency, as well as guidelines as to how long shelters have to hold disaster animals prior to their disposition.
  • Tennessee SB 1204 creates an Animal Abuser Registration system, which requires the state to publish an online database of people who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses against non-livestock animals.

Taxes on veterinary services around the corner?

As states examine ways to plug holes in their budgets or raise new revenue, lawmakers and tax policy experts are increasingly looking at whether to expand sales taxes to include services, a growing sector of the economy.  The Connecticut Legislature’s finance committee suggested imposing new sales taxes on various services that are currently untaxed, including accounting, architectural, engineering and veterinary services, but not medical, while lowering the overall tax rate to 5.35 percent by July 2016.
Similarly, in Vermont, a legislative proposal would lower the sales tax rate from 6 percent to 4.75 percent, but expand the tax to a variety of services, including veterinary services.  To try to address a growing debt issue, the Puerto Rico governor proposed a 14 percent tax on services, which again, would include veterinary services.
In all three jurisdictions, veterinary medical associations, with the AVMA’s assistance, are vigorously opposing new taxes on veterinary services as a threat to access to care and thereby harming families and their pets, as well as increasing public health risks.

Regulatory watch

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services issued final regulations for all animal shelters in the state. The new rules cover
  • training and certification requirements for certified euthanasia technicians;
  • minimum standards of care and treatment;
  • requirements for adoption and recovery;
  • acceptable standards, methods and procedures of euthanasia;
  • record keeping obligations; and
  • procedures for inspections and complaints.
The use of sodium pentobarbital or sodium pentobarbital in combination with phenytoin sodium is the exclusive methods for euthanasia of dogs and cats.
The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners made several changes to its rules this month, including that a veterinarian will now be allowed to refill a prescription written by another veterinarian as long as the two veterinarians are within the same practice, clinic or hospital; the veterinarian who wrote the original prescription has an established  VCPR with the specific animal; and the veterinarian refilling the prescription has access to the VCPR veterinarian’s current medical records for that animal.