by Thomas Hagerty, DVM
The General Election is now over and the MVMA will begin it's preparations for the 2015 Legislative session which will begin on Monday, January 5th. The five state constitutional officers and the 134 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives were up for election on November 4. The Minnesota senate members have 4 year terms and will not be up for election until November, 2016.
The House will have a number of new members due to retirements and the defeat of some incumbents. As a result of this your legislative team will be busy meeting with new members, and depending on which party wins control of the house, meeting with new committee chairs. Also the committee structure may change which adds to the confusion. There is only two months between the election and the beginning of session which means the pace quickens.
Several issues were acted on to the MVMA's satisfaction in the 2014 session. The Dog and Cat Breeder licensure, the Compounding and Anticipatory Drug issue, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and the Dog and Cat Research Placement program were passed and signed into law following a significant effort on the part of the MVMA.
A number of bills were introduced that affect animals and veterinarians but did not receive hearings. We expect that any of these may be introduced again in the 2015 session. An Animal Cruelty Task force was proposed that would have required a comprehensive review of the enforcement of animal anticruelty laws and practices and make recommendations for improvements to the legislature. A bill was introduced that would change the way appointments are made to the Board of Veterinary Medicine to make geographical appointments and to modify the temporary suspension of a veterinarians license.
There were no proposals to address the use of antibiotics in livestock, Animal Welfare issues, or to address changes that would have restricted or altered the practice of veterinary medicine and no scope of practice proposals.
Following the passage of the Dog and Cat Breeder bill which the Minnesota Board of Animal Health is required to administer, the board convened two advisory groups. One is made up of veterinarians whose purpose is to develop the requirements to be included in the health inspection certificate to accompany all adult animals that are sold by the licensed breeder. The second group is larger and includes representation from concerned stakeholders and the breeding industry. These groups are meeting at this time. Licensure will be mandatory 12 months after passage of the bill, however, voluntary participation by the breeders is being encouraged at this time.
The MVMA Governmental Affairs committee is meeting on November 20, 2014 to discuss and develop the Legislative Agenda for the 2015 session. The committee meets with the MVMA lobbyists and consultants to establish positions on the various issues that may come up in this session. The proposed agenda is brought before the MVMA Board of Directors for their approval. Once approved it provides the direction to the MVMA staff and lobbyists and Dr. Hagerty in meetings with legislators and stakeholders and in testimony before legislative committees.
The MVMA is again planning a day at the capitol during the 2015 session and encourages your participation. This is a very successful activity and extremely important in interaction with the legislature. The date of this event will be announced later this year.
The MVMA and the Government Affairs Committee are strongly suggesting that you continue to set up clinic visits with your legislators. Every veterinarian has a state senator and representative who prefers to hear from you, the constituent, rather than from a staffer or lobbyist representing you. These should be set up soon before the legislators get very busy. Please contact the MVMA (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in setting up a legislative visit.
Remember to make your VET-PAC contribution. This helps Dr. Hagerty and your Executive Director, Dan Tjornehoj, in their decisions in supporting those legislators that are helpful to us in the proposals that we deal with. Thank you for your past contributions.
For more information contact Dr. Hagerty at 651-402-7347 or Dan Tjornehoj at the MVMA office (651) 645-7533.