ADVOCATING FOR THE PROFESSION
Veterinarians must be aware of and comply with a wide number and variety of state, federal, and local laws and regulations. TVMA is the voice of veterinary medicine at the Texas State Capitol and provides leadership, information and resources on laws and policy decisions that impact veterinary professionals, medicine, animals and humans.
The TVMA Government Relations (formerly Legislative) Committee discuss and make recommendations on proposed legislation in state and municipal legislative bodies that may impact the mission and goals of TVMA and the veterinary profession. It also provides information and serves as a resource on legislative and legal issues affecting TVMA Members and all veterinary professionals in Texas.
Prior to the legislative session, TVMA produces an agenda and works with legislators and state officials as a non-partisan advocate and leader to support sound public policy and decisions affecting veterinary medicine. TVMA carefully monitors and reports on these issues and acts as a vehicle for veterinarians to share their opinions and concerns with lawmakers.
TVMA Tracking More Than 100 Legislative Bills Related to Veterinary or Animal Issues in Texas
The TVMA Government Relations Department is tracking a total of 160 bills. Approximately 100 of these pieces of legislation relate to veterinary issues or animal issues. The remainder relate to human medicine and warrant observation because they can be amended or potentially interpreted to relate to veterinary medicine. There are bills we actively oppose, such as HB 2915, which would eliminate the existing veterinary sales service tax exemption and require veterinarians to collect sales tax all of their services. However, there are many other less obvious bills that we have been actively working with the bill authors to make changes to, such as HB 3284, which currently requires veterinarians to report into the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program. We are not only tracking bills; we have worked with bill authors to make positive changes to bills so they do not harm the veterinary profession. For example, there are approximately five bills mandating the use of only electronic controlled drug prescriptions. However, veterinarians lack the software to comply with these mandates, so we have secured veterinary exemptions. Often an industry can see the potential unintended consequences of a policy proposal that cannot be envisioned by an elected official attempting to solve a problem as they see it.
TVMA also is advocating on your behalf for other issues, such as the Rural Veterinary Incentive Fund to provide student loan repayment assistance, controlled substance regulations, confidential information related to veterinary care or treatment, peace officers commissioned by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME), providing a copy of a complaint to the subject of the complaint and excessive attorney fees recovery.
SB 319 The Sunset Bill
Sunset Review of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners – the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission conducted a review of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) prior to the 2017 state legislative session. TVMA was a stakeholder participant in this process, made a number of suggestions, and attempted to help correct misunderstanding by agency officials throughout the process. Ultimately, during the legislative session, the findings of the Sunset Commission became sunset bills: Senate Bill 319 and House Bill 2967 which proposed a large number of changes to the Veterinary Licensing Act (VLA). TVMA actively lobbied the state legislature to make changes to the sunset bills so that they would not negatively impact veterinary practice while still serving their intended purpose of improving the function of the TBVME.
Brief descriptions of some of the changes made by the legislature this session that you need to know about:
- Mandates that specific notices must be provided to animal owners submitting an animal for rabies quarantine and specifies how a quarantined animal must be identified prior to euthanasia.
- Mandates that DVMs, LVTs and EDPs renewing or obtaining a license after September 1, 2017 must submit a complete and legible set of fingerprints.
- Allows the TBVME to change the term of license renewal and continuing education for all licensees from the current one-year time frame to a two-year period.
- Provides new regulatory authority to the state board to conduct risk-based inspections related to the controlled substances practices of veterinarians.
- Makes legal changes to protect investigative information gathered by the TBVME during a complaint from release and entitles the license holder to access the information.
- Restructures the complaint process, requires the state board to adopt a schedule of sanctions, and mandates that board members receive certain training.
- TVMA was successful in removing mandatory reporting by veterinarians into the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) of controlled drug dispensing and prescribing information as well as mandatory look-up of client prescription histories before prescribing or dispensing certain drugs.
- TVMA was also able to achieve inclusion of due process protections for licensees.
Texas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP)
- TVMA affected the removal of PMP veterinary reporting mandates from 4 other bills in addition to the sunset bills. (SB319/ HB2967, SB316/ HB3208, HB2859, SB1412)
- TVMA also successfully kept PMP mandates out of the sunset bill for the Texas Board of Pharmacy, HB 2561. Veterinarians were exempted from reporting in the final version however veterinarians and the TVMA will need to participate in the joint interim study required by HB 2561.
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