AVMA takes state issues case by case

Published on June 01, 2010
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The AVMA has established a protocol for when it will become involved in state legislative and regulatory matters without a specific request from that state's VMA.

Developed by the AVMA State Advocacy Committee and approved by the Executive Board at its April meeting, the protocol relies on the collaboration of AVMA leaders and SAC members to make informed and timely decisions on these matters.

The protocol states that the AVMA Executive Board or Board of Governors, which comprises the president, president-elect, and board chair, will approve any advocacy efforts by the AVMA on a state legislative or regulatory matter in the absence of a request by that state's VMA.

The SAC, or if time does not permit, its three-person Crisis Advisory Team, will submit such recommendations to the AVMA board or governors. The team was developed in 2005 to provide a rapid response in urgent situations to address gaps in AVMA policy with regard to state legislative and regulatory affairs.

When determining whether the AVMA should take action on its own, the following factors will be considered:

  • Will inaction contribute to a ripple? effect in other states?
  • Does the issue clearly impact one of the AVMA's strategic priorities?
  • Does the SAC include the issue in its top tier of legislative priorities?
  • Does the AVMA have a position on similar federal legislation?

The AVMA provides public policy assistance to state VMAs routinely. In almost all cases, the Association does so at the request of the state VMA and because both entities have similar positions on proposed state legislation or regulations.

In rare instances, according to the SAC recommendation's background, the AVMA and the state VMA may choose to adopt different policies or positions regarding a state issue. This protocol addresses how the AVMA will handle such situations.

For example, one occasion when the AVMA and a state VMA took different positions on a state public policy measure happened in the fall of 2008 with the California ballot initiative Proposition 2 (see JAVMA, Oct. 1, 2008).

The California VMA supported the measure, but the AVMA issued a statement saying it was concerned about possible, unintended negative consequences to animal welfare of enacting the measure.

Association leaders, although reluctant to involve the AVMA in state politics, believed the California referendum warranted a response because it was part of a larger, state-by-state campaign targeting food animal production. The measure ultimately was approved by state voters.