State Legislative Update October 2014

State Legislative Update
Prepared by Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
AVMA Communications Division
October 15, 2014

As we head toward Election Day and the adjournment of state legislative sessions for the year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law several noteworthy bills in recent days:

  • SB 1243 authorizes the state’s veterinary medical board to deny, suspend, or revoke the controlled substance permit of a veterinary assistant who is convicted of a state or federal felony involving controlled substances.
  • AB 1809 requires a person seeking to bring a dog into the state for purpose of resale or change of ownership to obtain a health certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian.
  • AB 2056 is believed to be the first law in the country to impose basic requirements for pet insurance. The new law requires an insurer to disclose, among other things, whether the policy excludes coverage because of a preexisting condition, a hereditary disorder, or a congenital anomaly or disorder. The law requires that policies have a "free look" cancellation period of 30 days, during which customers can return their policy for a full refund.

Gov. Brown vetoed two animal-related pieces of legislation. AB 1520 calls for authorizing a court to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interest of an animal for which a trust has been established, if the court determines that representation of the interest otherwise would be inadequate. Gov. Brown returned the bill without his signature, stating that current law governing pet trusts is adequate to protect an animal after its owner's death.

The governor also vetoed SB 835, which proposes restrictions on registration and administration of medically important antimicrobials to food-producing animals for non-routine disease control. The bill also calls for a veterinarian-client-patient relationship to exist prior to use of such drugs. According to the veto message, codifying a voluntary FDA standard that phases-out antibiotic use for growth promotion is unnecessary since most major animal producers have already pledged to go beyond the FDA standard. Gov. Brown directed the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture to work with the legislature to find new and effective ways to reduce unnecessary antibiotics used for livestock and poultry.

Legal watch

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller dismissed a lawsuit brought by six states challenging California's legislation requiring import compliance with its cage confinement requirements for laying hens. The suit alleged that California is attempting to regulate farming practices beyond its borders in violation of the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 2, a ballot initiative that regulates the size of egg-laying hens' housing, effective in 2015. California then passed a law in 2010 requiring out-of-state egg producers to comply with Proposition 2 standards in order to sell eggs in the state. The federal court ruling did not directly address the interstate commerce issue but found that the states could not sue on behalf of their residents because they were representing the economic interests of egg farmers rather than a substantial segment of their populations. It is not clear whether egg producers will file their own challenge before the law takes effect next year.

A Travis County, Texas district court found that the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners’ "designated caretaker" rule, designed to apply to animals treated in nonprofit or municipal shelters, is invalid as written. Judge Gisela Triana found that the board rule violates a statutory provision that states that the Texas Veterinary Licensing Act does not apply to treatment or care of an animal by the owner of the animal or an employee of the owner. The decision makes it clear, however, that the ownership exemption does not allow a veterinarian to ignore other laws that relate to licensing requirements, including handling of prescription drugs. It is on this ground that the court allowed the board to continue administrative actions against the shelter veterinarian. The judge did not issue a final order in this case and the state’s Attorney General’s office may appeal the ruling.