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Washington Legislature convenes for 2022

  |   Legislative, State Regulatory

The Washington State Legislature convened on Monday, January 10 for a 60-day legislative session. In an election year, the session is shorter than the biannual 105-day session. The focus of the first three weeks will be consideration of these bills in the policy committees. Among the bills the WSVMA is watching:

Senate Bill 5753 Increasing board and commission capacities

SB 5753 is brought forth by the WA State Dept. of Health to enhance the capacity of certain health profession boards and commissions. Certain boards and commissions are facing challenges related to their size and composition that affect their ability to carry out their regulatory work in an efficient manner. The proposal modifies board and commission statutes in order to achieve consistency, allow for more diversity, and increase effectiveness by:

  • expanding the size of membership and number of public members;
  • removing membership restrictions, such as congressional district or specialty requirements;
  • increasing compensation so all boards and commissions are reimbursed at a Class 5 rate ($250 a day);
  • removing specific quorum requirements for disciplinary actions and aligning term requirements; and
  • removing U.S. citizenship requirements for appointment.

Included in the bill is a proposed increase in the size of the Veterinary Board of Governors from seven to nine members, six of whom must be licensed veterinarians, one a licensed veterinary technician, one position that can be filled by either a veterinarian or veterinary technician, and one public member. The bill also specifies that large animal practice must be reflected in the make-up of the board.

The WSVMA supports the bill and is seeking to ensure the board reflects the diversity of the profession by inserting an amendment that will guarantee veterinarians come from small, large, and specialty practice as well as from diverse types of clinical employment settings and practice ownership. As with diversity in any setting, having the Board reflect the reality of the profession will ensure better decision-making and results.

Senate Bill 5496 relating to health professional monitoring programs

SB 5496 is brought forward by the Washington Physician’s Health Program (WPHP), the monitoring program for veterinarians, physicians, and dentists. The bill modernizes terms that are inaccurate, confusing, stigmatizing, or medically outdated and it defines program records as confidential and exempt from disclosures. Confidentiality of WPHP records is key to covered health professionals utilizing this resource.  Numerous studies have shown that fear of loss of confidentiality discourages veterinarians and other health professionals from getting care when needed.

The WSVMA supports this bill.

 

Posted January 14, 2022