January Report

This report shares short summary highlights of tracked legislative bills and rules & regulations that have seen recent activity, as well as available board and state VMA updates.

The legislative activity map reflects all 2023 activity and is updated daily. The regulation activity map reflects activity within the last month and will be updated monthly.

Legislative Activity

Regulation Activity

Board Watch

CCR Section 2068.5 – RVT Equivalent Experience and Education, adopted last year, was filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on 01/09/24 and will become effective April 1, 2024.

From the Washington DC Board of Veterinary Medicine January 18, 2024 minutes:

Clean Hands Certification Economic Expansion and Revitalization Amendment Act

Councilmember McDuffie introduced the Clean Hands Certification Economic Expansion and Revitalization Amendment Act of 2023 (B25-0619) on December 16, 2023. This legislation would remove the Clean Hands requirement from several occupational and professional licenses including any health professional license issued through DC Health.

2023-10  ~  LAC 46LXXXV.103 – Meetings of Boards via Electronic Means Update

  • 01-09-2024     Legislative Fiscal Office approved fiscal and economic impact statement.
  • 01-10-2024     First Report submitted to Senate and House Legislative Oversight Committees on Agriculture,
                             Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development.
  • 01-10-2024     Notice of Intent submitted for publication in 2024 Louisiana Register, Volume 50, January edition.
  • 01-20-2024     Notice of Intent published in 2024 Louisiana Register, Volume 50, January edition.
  • 01-21-2024     Period starts for submission of written public comment related to this rule proposal.
  • 02-09-2024     Deadline for submission of written comments to Board.*See instructions for submitting
                             comments in Notice of Intent. Written comments will only be accepted from 1/21 to 2/09.
  • 02-29-2024     Tentative Public Hearing Date  * In accordance with §953.A(2)(b)(i), the Public Hearing for oral
                             presentation or argument will be granted if requested within twenty days (by February 9th, 2024)
                             after publication of the rule by twenty-five persons, by a governmental subdivision or agency, by
                             an association having not less than twenty-five members, or by a committee of either house of
                             the legislature to which the proposed rule change has been referred under the provisions of
                             R.S. 49:968. The Public Hearing will not be held if these conditions are not met. Notification will
                             be made on this page and via email on or after February 12th if the public hearing is to be held.

Recently Adopted Rules

Vet 802.01  Tasks Allowed to be Performed by a Veterinary Nurse or Veterinary TechnicianEffective 2/18/2024

Proposed Rules

Vet 200    Organizational and Procedural Rules

Public Hearing:  Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 9:00 AM at the OPLC offices at 7 Eagle Square, Concord NH.

**You do not need to attend the hearing to submit written comments.**

Deadline for Submitting Written Comment:  Monday, February 5, 2024, at 4:00 PM.
Please submit comments to OPLC-Rules@oplc.nh.gov.

VMAs

2023-2024 Position Review
The current session started on January 4, 2023 and formal sessions end on July 31, 2024. January 20 was the deadline for bills to be filed. Bills can also be filed during the session as “late files.”

Bills We Support:

H.267 – An Act Relative to the Registration of Veterinarians
This bill would change the licensing period for veterinarians from every year to every other year.

S.1218 – An Act Relative to Non-Compete Agreements for Veterinarians
This bill would render any non-competes for veterinarians null and void.

H.825 and S.487 – Acts Relative to Pesticides
This bill requires digitization of pesticide use forms for better monitoring of the use of Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs), and requires the increased use of Integrated Pest Management strategies in Massachusetts.

H.332 and S.207 – Acts Regulating the Practice and Licensure of Veterinary Technicians
This bill would create a subsidiary Board for Veterinary Technology under the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine to:

1. Determine and establish the criteria and regulations by which veterinary technicians would be licensed and registered; and 
2. Establish the duties which supervising, Massachusetts-licensed veterinarians could assign to licensed veterinary technicians, and to non-licensed veterinary assistants, consistent with good veterinary medical practice.

H.1718 and S.1142 – An Act Relative to the Humane Protection of Animals
This bill contains a collection of measures which work to strengthen and finesse our animal cruelty laws.

H.1604 – An Act Addressing Investigations of Reports of Abuse and Neglect
This bill would improve laws relating to the reporting of animal abuse by human services agencies by removing the time limitation by which they need to make such reports. 

H.198 and S.90 – An Act Relative to Animal Welfare and DCF Regulations
This bill would prevent the Department of Children and Families from using breed as a factor to determine whether a family can adopt or foster children. It also will remove timing restrictions in the statutes that allow employees and contractors of human services agencies to report suspected animal cruelty. Currently, the timeframe for this reporting has been interpreted to apply only to the 10-day investigation period. This bill will ensure that suspected animal cruelty can be reported at any time the employee or contractor suspects it. 

H.2423: An Act relative to providing advanced life support to police dogs injured in the line of duty 
This bill amends Nero’s Law to allow for advanced life support training for paramedics to assist police K9s injured in the line of duty.


Bills We Oppose:

S.1126 – An Act Promoting Pet Safety (“Crawford’s Law”)
This bill would increase damages and liability in cases of willful, wanton, reckless or negligent act or omission kills or causes or procures the death of an animal-companion. 

H.257 – An Act Relative to Equine Dentistry
This bill allows for teeth floating by “licensed equine dental practitioners” but includes: It shall not include dental procedures on canines and felines, nor shall controlled substances be used except by and on the order of a licensed veterinarian, as provided by state and federal law.

H.258 – An Act Relative to Licensure of Equine Dentists
This bill would define “Equine dental practitioner”, a person who is a veterinarian or who is certified by the international association of equine dentistry. They would be licensed under the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine.


No Action:

S.2552 – An Act Prohibiting Inhumane Feline Declawing
This bill would prohibit declawing, onychectomy, or tendonectomy of a cat, unless completed for a therapeutic purpose. It includes fines for those found to have done them for non-therapeutic purposes. 

New Laws Target Overdose Epidemic
By John Finnerty from Capitolwire.com

HARRISBURG (Jan. 8) – State data shows that drug overdoses claimed at least 3,700 lives in Pennsylvania last year. What the final tally for the year will be remains unclear because overdose death data can lag by months.

“The Shapiro Administration is using every tool at its disposal to improve and expand access to lifesaving services and resources including substance use disorder treatment, naloxone, syringe services programs, fentanyl test strips, and xylazine test strips,” said Neil Ruhland, a Department of Health spokesman. “DOH has continued to add different, cost-effective naloxone options to the naloxone standing order and implements numerous overdose prevention programs across the Commonwealth. The DOH also remains committed to advocating for the expansion of syringe services programs. These evidence-based, life-saving programs are backed by 30 years of research and practice, have bipartisan support in the legislature, and are endorsed by more than 180 public health organizations across Pennsylvania,” he said.

In 2022, drug overdoses claimed 5,153 lives in Pennsylvania. That was down slightly compared to 2021 when 5,356 lives were lost to drug overdoses in the state. The overdose death toll in the state peaked in 2017 when 5,425 lives were lost to overdoses. That prompted former Gov. Tom Wolf to declare and opioid epidemic emergency to empower state agencies to more effectively collaborate to combat the drug scourge. The death toll dropped in 2018 and 2019 only to begin increasing again as fentanyl began to play a greater role in overdose deaths.

In 2022, fentanyl was involved in more than 78% of overdose deaths.

Based on the data available thus far, fentanyl was blamed in about 69% of overdose deaths in 2023. In 2017, fentanyl was blamed in 66% of overdose deaths.

Xylazine was blamed in almost 18% of overdose deaths last year, compared to less than 15% in 2022. Xylazine didn’t show up on the state’s tracking of most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in 2017, and in 2018, the drug was cited in just over 1% of overdose deaths.

New Laws Target Overdose Epidemic

Two of the 33 bills signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro in December deal directly with trying to help combat this ongoing drug overdose crisis.

Act 66 aims to help address workforce shortages by offering regulatory flexibilities for treatment providers and in turn improve access to those who need their services. The bill allows certified registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to fulfill the on-call physician requirements of a treatment program. The change would address massive physician shortages particularly seen in rural parts of the commonwealth, according to a release from Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Mercer, the prime sponsor of the legislation.

In addition, the law also increases counselor, counselor supervisor and counselor assistant caseloads in inpatient residential treatment settings to give providers more flexibility in how they can use their employees and expertise. It also waives clinical experience requirements so individuals with related advanced degrees can get to work immediately and help meet staffing needs.

“While the General Assembly has addressed many challenges in combating the opioid epidemic and decades-old addiction crisis, increasing flexibility and opportunity for staff at these treatment facilities will add another tool in the fight against substance abuse all while increasing access to treatment services,” Brooks said.

Act 43 would expand fentanyl and xylazine drug testing in hospital emergency departments.

Last April, the Shapiro administration moved to reschedule xylazine as a Schedule III drug, meaning it can’t be obtained over-the-counter. Xylazine had most commonly been used as an animal sedative, but its illicit use has grown in popularity among drug abusers.

The House, in October passed legislation, House Bill 1661, that would criminalize possession of xylazine, That bill is now in the Senate where it’s gone through second consideration and is now awaiting a final vote.

Summary of PVMA Statement on the Illicit Use of Xylazine from April 28, 2023

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) expresses gratitude to Governor Shapiro’s office for addressing concerns about scheduling xylazine as a Schedule III controlled substance. Emphasizing xylazine’s crucial role in veterinary medicine, particularly for large animals, PVMA highlights its importance in safe handling and medical procedures. Concerns are raised about potential restrictions affecting legal access, with only two U.S. manufacturers and the risk of scarcity due to increased regulatory burden. PVMA advocates for a focus on preventing illicit importation and supports the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act in Congress. They request a sunset provision in the Department of Health’s final-form rule for consistency with potential federal legislation. Appreciating the Governor’s attention, PVMA recognizes the office’s commitment to community safety and anticipates continued collaboration on this critical issue. Link to full statement.

PVMA will continue to advocate for the licit use of Xylazine by veterinarians while still keeping regulations in place to prevent the illicit use of the drug.

______________________________

Telehealth and the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship

by Corinne Tolan 

An Update from the AVMA House of Delegates

Representing Pennsylvania: Dr. Christina Dougherty and Dr. Kate Boatright

The latest update from the AVMA’s House of Delegates (HOD) delves into the critical intersection of Telehealth and the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). Highlighting the potential benefits of telehealth in veterinary practices, the document introduces concepts such as teleadvice for basic queries and teletriage for urgent cases without requiring a VCPR. However, it strongly emphasizes the indispensable role of an in-person visit in establishing a comprehensive VCPR, crucial for informed diagnoses and tailored treatment plans.

The document outlines the inherent differences between human and veterinary medicine, debunking comparisons and underscoring the unique challenges in animal healthcare. It stresses the risks associated with eliminating the in-person visit requirement, including delayed diagnoses, inappropriate drug use, and public health concerns. Furthermore, the AVMA argues against a virtual VCPR as a solution to access issues, advocating for mobile veterinary services for both access and quality of care.

A significant focus is placed on the potential pitfalls of telemedicine, warning against overprescribing, emergence of “pill mills,” and the ensuing increase in complaints and liability. The AVMA asserts that a virtual VCPR poses enforcement challenges, leading to health and welfare risks for animals and limited recourse for clients.

In conclusion, the document advocates for a balanced approach, prioritizing relationships over technology. The Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care, led by the AVMA, stands as a collaborative effort to responsibly integrate telehealth tools into veterinary practices while maintaining the importance of establishing a VCPR in-person. For a comprehensive understanding of the issues and recommendations, please read the full text, linked below.

READ FULL DOCUMENT

Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority

HISA Establishes Next Generation Advisory Group

January 16, 2024 (Lexington, KY) – The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has established a Next Generation Advisory Group that will be made up of individuals in the early to mid-stages of their professional careers and will provide feedback to HISA’s executive team and standing committees on the implementation and evolution of HISA’s regulations and protocols. HISA is inviting anyone who wishes to be considered for membership in the Advisory Group to submit an application indicating their interest and qualifications by February 9, 2024.

“Establishing a Next Generation Advisory Group was an easy decision for HISA. We are safeguarding racing for generations to come by focusing on implementing rules and regulations to make racing safer and fairer for all involved,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “We welcome the feedback and perspectives of this Next Generation Advisory Group who will surely act as excellent advocates for preserving the sport’s future.”

The Next Generation Advisory Group will be co-chaired by Mackenzie Kirker-Head, HISA Communications and Design Manager, and Brandon Badgett, Director of Strategy at Jahnel Group. HISA Assistant General Counsel Sam Reinhardt will act as Secretary, and Alexa Ravit, Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) Director of Communications & Outreach, will act as HIWU Liaison. HISA is looking to select a diverse group of 10-12 individuals who bring a wide range of experience in horse racing, related industries and innovation to join the Advisory Group and help advise HISA’s executive team and standing committees going forward. 

Questions about HISA’s Next Generation Advisory Group should be submitted to Mackenzie Kirker-Head at Mackenzie.KirkerHead@hisaus.org. More information about the group and expectations of members can be found here.