State legislative update

  |   State Regulatory

This issue of the State Legislative Update includes select summaries of bills and regulations introduced in March and tracked by the AVMA Division of State Advocacy. Bills abound on declaw bans, liability, and licensure.


The North Dakota Veterinary Medical Association championed ND SB 2140 which waives repayment requirements for individuals participating in the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) in veterinary medicine who entered an agreement with the state board of higher education during the biennium beginning July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2021. Effective May 5, 2021, Utah (UT SB 114) will allow a licensed chiropractor certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association to treat an animal without a veterinarian’s referral. West Virginia’s WV HB 2262 removes the requirement that a veterinarian must review the controlled substance monitoring database, effective May 31, 2021.


Several state legislatures are considering bills that would ban the declawing of cats for anything other than medical purposes. New York is currently the only state with a statewide ban on declawing cats except for medical purposes. In California, CA SB 585 would prohibit a person from removing or disabling a cat’s claws except when performed solely for a therapeutic purpose. The bill would require a veterinarian who determines a phalangectomy is necessary for a therapeutic purpose to file a written statement with the Veterinary Medical Board within 10 business days after performing the procedure. Likewise, Nevada’s NV AB 209 would prohibit a person from removing or disabling the claws of a cat unless necessary to address the physical medical condition of a cat. Nevada’s proposal would also require a veterinarian who determines the procedure is necessary to file a written statement with the Nevada State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners stating the purpose for performing the procedure and providing the name and address of the owner, and provide a copy of the statement to the owner.


Legislation that would improve civil liability protection for veterinary professionals responding to emergency situations continues to gain popularity across the country, with bills introduced in New Jersey (NJ A 1643/S 715), Ohio (OH SB 130), Rhode Island (RI SB 482), and Texas (TX HB 2850).

NJ A 1643/S 715 would establish a Good Samaritan Law to provide immunity from civil liability for veterinarians or emergency responders who assist animals at the scene of an accident or emergency. OH SB 130 would make a veterinarian who renders emergency treatment without compensation to an ill or injured animal not liable to the owner of the animal for any damages to the animal except in the case of gross negligence. During a period of a declared emergency, RI SB 482 would permit volunteer health practitioners, including veterinarians, and organizations from other states to provide medical and veterinary services and provide the volunteer health practitioners with limited immunity. TX HB 2850 would provide immunity from civil liability to a veterinarian, licensed veterinary technician, or certified veterinary assistant who provides veterinary care or treatment to an animal during a disaster.


Bills in Arkansas (AR HB 1667), Maine (ME LD 1131/HP 809) and Ohio (OH SB 131/HB 203) would address recognition of occupational licenses from other states. AR HB 1667 would allow an applicant who has established residence in Arkansas and has had a license, in good standing, for at least one year to receive a license in Arkansas. ME LD 1131/HP 809 would require state licensing boards, including the veterinary medical board, to issue an occupational license to an applicant who meets certain requirements, including holding a similar license in another state for at least one year and being in good standing with the issuing board in the other state. And OH SB 131/HB 203 would add the requirement for the state veterinary medical board to issue a license to an applicant to practice veterinary medicine or for a veterinary technician if the applicant holds a license in another state or the applicant has satisfactory work experience, a government certification, or a private certification in a state that does not issue that license.

In Texas, TX HB 4181 would criminalize practicing veterinary medicine without a license as a felony.


In Maine, ME LD 799 (SP 71) would delay the implementation of the requirement that a veterinarian prescribes all benzodiazepine or opioid medications electronically until July 1, 2025.

Legislation in Texas (TX HB 4173) would prohibit pharmacists and licensing authorities from using a veterinarian’s DEA registration number for a purpose other than a purpose described by federal law.


Proposals to repeal or impose taxes affecting veterinary practice continue to be introduced. New York’s NY A 6585 would exempt services to board an animal when rendered by a veterinarian from sales and use taxes. Legislation in Texas (TX SB 1711) would include all veterinary services—including prescribed medications, artificial insemination, breeding services, boarding, training provided by a veterinarian or a person employed by a veterinarian, and medical tests performed on an animal or substances removed from an animal in connection with diagnosis or treatment—as a taxable service.

View the full state legislation chart here.

Report provided by AVMA Division of State Advocacy


Posted April 9, 2021