AVMA legislative agenda expands

Board acts on pro-business, welfare, wildlife bills
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U.S. Capitol BuildingThe AVMA is weighing in on several bills Congress is considering, including legislation affecting small businesses, wildlife, and animal welfare.

The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee reviewed bills pertinent to veterinary medicine and recommended the Executive Board take appropriate action.

The following pro-business bills have been designated for AVMA support:

  • The Hire Now Tax Cut Act of 2010 (S. 2983) amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt for-profit and nonprofit employers from Social Security taxes in 2010 for new employees hired after Feb. 3, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2011, who certify that they have not worked more than 40 hours during the preceding 60 days. The legislation allows for an increase in the general business tax credit for the retention of such employees for at least one year at specified wage levels, and appropriates to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund under Title II of the Social Security Act amounts necessary to cover any reduction in revenues resulting from the tax exemptions provided by this act.
  • The Small Business Job Creation Tax Act of 2010 (S. 2973/H.R. 4585) would provide a one-time tax credit to businesses that increase their payroll. Small businesses would receive a 20 percent credit against the increase in payroll taxes, and businesses with 100 or more employees would be eligible for a 15 percent credit.
  • The Small Business Start-up Savings Accounts Act (S. 2985/H.R. 4309) would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide tax-exempt Small Business Start-up Savings Accounts to pay for trade or business expenses, including the purchase of equipment or facilities, marketing, training, incorporation, and accounting fees. The legislation allows annual contributions to such accounts up to $10,000 and sets forth rules for the tax treatment of contributions to, and rollovers from, such accounts, similar to rules governing individual retirement accounts.
  • The Small Business Health Options Program Act (S. 971/H.R. 2360) may lead to more affordable and predictable health insurance for small business owners and their employees. The bill does many things, including allowing small businesses and the self-employed to band together in a state or nationwide pool that could lower health insurance premiums by spreading their risk over a larger number of participants.

The board also designated the School Meal Safety and Standards Act (H.R. 4590) and the Safe Food for Schools Act (S. 1693) for AVMA support. H.R. 4590 and S. 1693 seek to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require the secretary of agriculture to ensure the safety of school meals by enhancing coordination with states and schools operating school meal programs in the case of a recall of contaminated food.

The Executive Board designated the following bills for nonsupport:

  • H. R. 2811/S. 373 would amend the federal criminal code to add constrictor snakes of the Python genus to the list of injurious species that are prohibited from being shipped or imported into the United States. The Legislative Advisory Committee reviewed an AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues memo and agreed with its recommendation of nonsupport. One of the issues with the bill is that it proposes a blanket listing of all members of the genus Python as injurious animals, but not all species in this genus pose severe threats.
  • The Pet Safety and Protection Act (H.R. 3907/S. 1834) would amend the Animal Welfare Act to list permissible sources of dogs and cats used by research facilities to include dogs and cats obtained from a licensed dealer; from a publicly owned and operated pound or shelter that meets specified requirements; by donation from a person who bred and raised the dog or cat and owned it for not less than one year; or from a research facility licensed by the agriculture secretary. This legislation would prohibit federal facilities from purchasing or otherwise acquiring dogs or cats for exhibition purposes, except from the operator of an auction that comports with legal requirements or a person holding a valid dealer or exhibitor license. The Legislative Advisory Committee reviewed the AVMA policy "Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing, and Education" and concluded that a position of nonsupport for the act is consistent with this policy. The AVMA had the same position for this legislation in the last Congress.
  • The Global Wildlife Conservation, Coordination, and Enhancement Act (H.R. 3086) would establish within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an Institute for International Wildlife Conservation, headed by an assistant director for International Wildlife Conservation. The legislation directs the assistant director to create, submit to specified congressional committees, and publish in the Federal Register an International Wildlife Conservation Action Plan. The AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues reviewed the legislation and believes the bill would not establish or maintain effective actions for the conservation of wild animals. The committee expressed concern that the bill, as written, is counter to the AVMA policy "Conservation of Wild and Exotic Animals" and creates additional oversight and advisory bodies and positions that would result in redundancy, and likely, interference with existing functional efforts and authorities. The LAC agreed.
  • The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (H.R. 4733) would purportedly promote the well-being of farm animals by requiring federal agencies to procure food products derived from certain animals only from sources that raised the animals free from cruelty and abuse. Specifically, a federal agency would not be able to purchase any food product derived from a covered animal unless the covered animal were provided adequate space to stand up, lie down, turn around freely, and fully extend all limbs. The LAC reviewed the legislation and relevant AVMA policies and recommended a position of nonsupport.

The entire AVMA legislative agenda is online here.