TVMA Legislative Update

87th Legislature Regular Session

We wanted to take a moment to let you know what legislation the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is working on in the Texas Legislature during the ongoing legislative session. These bills were requested specifically by TVMA or members and we are working hard to see that they become law. 

It is an extraordinarily difficult and different legislative session due to COVID-19 challenges, electrical grid issues, a state budget deficit and redistricting. Already things are not moving at a typical pace and it’s clear that fewer things may pass to become law than in previous sessions. This makes it a very good session to stop bad legislation and not such a great one to pass bills. TVMA is tracking and has taken a position a large number of bills that relate to animal or veterinary issues. There are many bills that the veterinary profession supports and (perhaps more importantly) opposes that will be covered in a future message. 

  • HB1259 by Rep. Drew Darby/ SB 1447 by Kel Seliger, relating to the rural veterinarian incentive program.
    • This bill creates a student loan and tuition repayment program incentivize rural practice for applicants that meet certain criteria. The RVIP is different from student loan repayment programs because it is not dependent on state appropriations. Instead, the RVIP maximizes any temporary state funding by providing a path for rural communities and organizations to sponsor participants.
    • This bill recently received a hearing in the House Higher Education Committee where TVMA members testified in favor of the bill. If you would like to watch the testimony here is a link to the video. Testimony begins at timestamp 6:10.
  • HB4181 by Rep Ryan Guillenrelating to the prosecution of the offense of practicing veterinary medicine without a license; increasing a criminal penalty.
    • This bill increases the penalty for practicing veterinary medicine without a license from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony if the person falsely represents themselves as a veterinary or as being affiliated with a veterinary practice. The intent of this bill is to encourage local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute unlicensed practice cases brought to them by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. 
  • HB 3442 by Charles Anderson, DVM / SB981 by Sen. Beverly Powellrelating to the requirement that the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners provide a copy of a complaint to the subject of the complaint.
    • Requires the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to provide a copy of the complaint to the subject of the complaint. The state veterinary board no longer provides a copy of the complaint but only a date range that makes it difficult for a licensee to defend themselves. 
  • HB2850 by Rep. Kyle Kacalrelating to the liability of certain volunteers who provide veterinary care or treatment and certain confidential or privileged information related to veterinary care or treatment.
    • This bill ensures that veterinarians, licensed veterinary technicians (LVT’s) and certified veterinary assistants (CVA’s) are protected from civil liability when they in good faith volunteer to provide emergency medical assistance to an ill or injured animal during a man-made or natural disaster at the request of emergency personnel or an owner. Applies if the person is working without expectation of compensation, under the appropriate level of supervision and scope of practice. It does not apply to acts or omissions that are grossly negligent or intentional misconduct. 
    • This bill ensures that veterinarians are not subjected to disciplinary action by the TBVME for refuting false information related to the care or treatment of an animal posted in an online forum. 
    • The bill clarifies that it is not a violation of existing law to disclose information to another veterinarian or governmental entity information concerning the prescribing, dispensing or requesting of a controlled substance in order to prevent potential or suspected drug diversion or abuse. 
    • The clarifies that it is not a violation of existing law for a veterinarian making a lawful report of animal cruelty or attack to the proper authorities to immediately turn over medical records to show the extent of the injuries or abuse. 
  • HB4327 by Rep. James White, relating to prohibiting interference with the practice of veterinary medicine.
    • The bill provides that the practice of veterinary medicine is only subject to federal law and state law, including rules adopted by the TBVME. Provides that municipalities may not adopt or enforce any ordinance, rule, or regulation that prohibits a veterinarian from performing a medical procedure on an animal that is not prohibited by this chapter or other state law. The intent behind this bill is to prevent local municipalities from interfering between the veterinarian and client by banning procedures that they find objectionable. 
  • HB 4173 by Rep. Lynn Stucky, DVMrelating to the prohibited use of a Federal Drug Enforcement Administration number.
    • Prohibits pharmacists and licensing authorities from using a veterinarian’s DEA registration number for a purpose other than a purpose described by federal law. The intent of this bill is to stop pharmacies from requiring or using a DEA number for tracking purposes for transactions that do not involve controlled drugs. 
  • HB 685 by Gary VanDeaver, relating to the creation of a critical care protection program for veterinarian electric customers.
    • Requires the Public Utility Commission to establish a utility protection program for veterinarians that notifies the customer of interruptions or suspensions in service and provides certain disconnection protections to prevent harm to animals under the veterinarian's care. This bill was filed before the recent winter storms. It was intended to place veterinary clinics on similar footing with human hospitals and prevent disconnections that occur through no fault of the practitioner. Power disruptions can injure critically ill patients and damage drugs, biologics and blood products. Even a “routine surgery” is no longer routine when the lights go out.