State Legislative Update November 2014

State Legislative Update
Prepared by Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
AVMA Communications Division
November 13, 2014

The Republican Party's state legislative successes on November 4 mirrored its success at the federal level. 6,057 (82.0%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats were up for election during this midterm election. Republicans will now control 68 legislative chambers and Democrats will have a majority in 30. There will be 31 Republican governors and 17 Democratic governors, with two contests undecided at this time.

All 13 veterinarian state legislators whose seats were up for re-election this year won their races. They are Dr. Joe Seng (Iowa), Dr. Dan Brown (Missouri), Dr. Steve Katz (New York), Dr. Bill Rabon (North Carolina), Dr. Trudy Wade (North Carolina), Dr. Lee Denney (Oklahoma), Dr. Brian Renegar (Oklahoma), Dr. Charles "Doc" Anderson (Texas), Dr. Jimmie Don Aycock (Texas), Dr. John Bartholomew (Vermont), Dr. Kathy Haigh (Washington), Dr. Dean Knudson (Wisconsin), and Dr. Fred Emerich (Wyoming).

Dr. Krayton Kerns (Montana) and Dr. John Mathis (Utah) retired from their state legislatures and did not run in 2014. This leaves 17 veterinarians to serve in state legislatures next year.

Pit bull ballot initiative fails

By a margin of about 2-to-1, Aurora, Colo., voters defeated a ballot question proposing to overturn the city's nine-year-old ordinance banning American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers from the city limits. When the city council first enacted the ban in 2005, there were 10 breeds barred from the city, but the council in 2011 restricted the ban to just three breeds and gave owners a chance to have their dog DNA-tested to prove whether they were in fact a banned breed. Dogs who were already in the city at the time of the ban were allowed to stay if their owners paid a registration fee and followed certain restrictions. According to the city, about 90 registered pit bulls remain, down from about 500 when the ban took effect. The city has euthanized more than 1,100 restricted-breed dogs since then. Aurora's Animal Care Division opposed the ballot initiative, arguing that pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds. Opponents also argued that because Denver and other nearby cities have similar bans, Aurora would become a magnet for dogs barred from other cities.

Veterinarian prescription monitoring exemptions

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law SB 1180, which provides for a prescription drug monitoring program to be implemented by a new board within the state's Department of Health. However, the legislation's definitions for "prescriber" and "dispenser" specifically exclude veterinarians, making them exempt from various querying and submission requirements for prescribers and dispensers of controlled substances.

New Mexico's Regulation and Licensing Department amended its rules to exclude veterinarians from the definition of "practitioners," who must otherwise register with the state's prescription controlled substance monitoring program. The new rule also excludes veterinarians and veterinary clinics dispensing to non-human patients from the definition of "dispenser" under the program.

Regulatory watch

The Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners made extensive changes to its regulations governing veterinarians, veterinary facilities, veterinary technicians, certified animal control agencies and certified animal euthanasia technicians. Changes include a more comprehensive definition of veterinary medicine that encompasses complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage therapy; accepted livestock management practices exempt from the practice act; a new requirement for continuing education pertaining to regulatory issues, controlled substances or professional ethics; new rules for out-of-state consulting veterinarians; and clarifying scope of practice and supervision requirements for veterinary technicians.

Legal watch

Canine Care, Inc. has been ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution for the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine following a recent settlement agreement with California law enforcement authorities. An investigation led by the state's Department of Consumer Affairs revealed that the company was illegally advertising and performing anesthesia-free pet teeth cleaning using scalers throughout California. State law provides that only licensed veterinarians may perform anesthesia-free teeth cleaning using any instrument, device, or scaler. The restitution will be paid to consumers, the California Veterinary Medical Board, and several county governments involved in the investigation and legal action. In addition, the company and its officers and employees are prohibited from conducting veterinary medicine activities or portraying themselves as veterinary medicine professionals, unless cleanings are performed by licensed veterinarians.

"Not only were the services Canine Care, Inc. performed in violation of the law, but it also put consumers' pets at risk," said Department of Consumer Affairs, Division of Investigation Chief Michael Gomez. Veterinary Medical Board Executive Officer Annemarie DelMugnaio added that "the resolution to the case against Canine Care, Inc. is a long time coming and we are pleased with the outcome." She also said that this result should assist the board and veterinarians in educating the public about the importance of seeking dental care from trained and licensed professionals who understand what it takes to keep animals.