AVMA watches new year's resolutions


The organization?s legislative agenda lists bills that may affect its members in a variety of ways.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) kept its sights on numerous pieces of legislation throughout 2013 and will continue to monitor issues this year. The lobbying arm of the AVMA focuses on bills that would affect the veterinary profession and pursues one of several courses of action: to actively pursue passage, support, remain neutral, actively pursue defeat or ignore. The organization has focused on well-publicized legislation such as the farm bill and the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, but there are also bills such as the Small Business Startup Savings Accounts Act and the Know Before You Owe Private Student Loan Act—legislation that perhaps should be on your radar if it isn’t already.

dvm360 lays out the issues that may affect the welfare of your patients or the way you practice, run your business or pay your loans. To see the full AVMA legislative agenda, download this PDF. Click hear to watch a video wrap up of the AVMA's legislative work in the past year by Mark Lutschaunig, DVM, director of the AMVA's Governmental Relations Division.

Veterinary practice and business ownership

Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

This bill would exempt veterinarians from restrictions on transporting controlled substances imposed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It was introduced and sponsored by the U.S. House Veterinary Medicine Caucus made up of Reps. Kurt Schrader, DVM (D-Ore.), and Ted Yoho, DVM (R-Fla.). Federal law currently requires veterinarians to store and administer controlled substances only at DEA-registered locations. “The Drug Enforcement Administration’s confusing interpretation of existing law makes little sense, is completely unreasonable, and hinders the ability of mobile and ambulatory veterinarians to properly care for their clients,” Schrader says. “We’ve made good-faith attempts to work with the DEA to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and find a sensible solution, but our overtures have fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, we’re moving forward with what any reasonable person would interpret as a commonsense legislative solution to this bureaucratic nonsense.”

Small Business Startup Savings Accounts Act of 2013

AVMA: Support

This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow businesses with 500 or fewer employees to be eligible to open a small business startup savings account for the payment of certain business expenses, including the purchase of equipment or facilities and costs associated with marketing, training, incorporation and accounting. Contributions to the account would be capped at $10,000 per year and the total value of these accounts at any one time would be capped at $150,000.

Device Access and Innovation Protection Act

AVMA: Support

This legislation would repeal the excise tax on medical devices that was implemented as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The tax went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and impacts medical devices that are listed with the Food and Drug Administration as “intended for humans.” While the tax is not intended for devices that are developed exclusively for veterinary medicine, it does impact veterinary medicine since veterinarians often use medical devices that are intended for humans.

Animal advocacy

Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2013AVMA: Active pursuit of passageThis legislation amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit people from knowingly attending animal fighting ventures or causing a minor to attend such ventures. It sets civil and criminal penalties for violation.

Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013

AVMA: Support

This bill amends the Egg Products Inspection Act to provide a uniform standard for the housing and treatment of egg-laying hens.

Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act of 2013

AVMA: Support

The bill would establish a grant program to encourage the use of assistance dogs by certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans.

Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2013

AVMA: Active pursuit of defeat

This legislation would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the sale, transport, import and export of horses and their parts for human consumption. This bill is controversial among animal activists and horse lovers. Horse slaughter for food was effectively banned in the United States in 2007 and restored in 2011, but federal processes and legal challenges have prevented domestic slaughter facilities from operating. The AVMA says it cannot support the bill because it lacks provisions to care for affected horses, which could leave them to suffer unnecessarily.

Expressing opposition to the use of gas chambers

AVMA: No action

Expresses disapproval of the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals and supports the enactment of state laws requiring the use of euthanasia by injection with sodium pentobarbital as the standard method of euthanasia for all animal shelters.

Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013 (PAST)

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

The AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) continue to actively support efforts to eliminate soring and improve enforcement of the federal Horse Protection Act. “Despite more than 40 years after the Horse Protection Act, which made soring illegal in shows, sales or exhibits, the horse show industry has failed to police itself,” says AAEP President Ann Dwyer, DVM. “A sored gait is still rewarded in the show ring.” The PAST Act would make the actual act of soring illegal, further restrict the devices that can be used on horses when they’re shown, increase penalties against violators and, for the first time, require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (rather than horse industry organizations) to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors to enforce the regulations.

Horse Transportation Safety Act

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

This bill prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.

Veterinarians in debt

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act of 2013

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) provides loan repayment to veterinarians who agree to practice in shortage situations across the country. This legislation would make VMLRP loan repayment awards tax-exempt, thereby increasing the number of veterinarians who could participate in the program. At present the awards are taxed at a rate of 39 percent.

Earnings-Contingent Education Loans (ExCEL) Act of 2013

AVMA: Support

This bill would establish the Income Dependent Education Assistance (IDEA) Loan Program. Under the legislation, a borrower would pay a percentage of his or her discretionary income toward his or her student loan balance until the obligation is repaid. The IDEA loans would require income-contingent repayment for all borrowers through a system of withholdings from earnings by the Internal Revenue Service, similar to federal tax withholdings. This legislation would combine the Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford and GradPLUS loans with a single, simple, income-contingent student loan.

Know Before You Owe Private Student Loan Act of 2013

AVMA: Support

This bill amends both the Higher Education Act and the Truth in Lending Act to strengthen the requirements surrounding private student loans. The legislation would ensure that students understand the full range of their loan options they qualify for before they actually borrow.

Food animal practice and public health

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (farm bill)

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

The 2013 farm bill is a comprehensive bill that deals with federal policy for U.S. agriculture, including all programs and issues that are under USDA purview. The AVMA’s primary focus centers on programs that are administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Charitable Agricultural Research Act (CARA)

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax deduction for a charitable contribution to an agricultural research organization directly engaged in the continuous active conduct of agricultural research and make prohibitions against expenditures to influence legislation applicable to such organizations.

Animal and Public Health Protection Act

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

This provision will provide the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) with the ability to conduct activities related to detecting and responding to animal health threats. The bill authorizes $15 million for the NAHLN. The AVMA believes that better funding will more effectively control potential disease outbreaks, limit the spread of diseases to other animals and, as a result, limit the diseases’ impact on public health, animal suffering, interruption of food supply and the financial health of livestock and related industries.

Next Generation Research Act

AVMA: Active pursuit of passage

Through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the bill says the director of the NIH will coordinate all policies and programs aimed at promoting and providing opportunities for new researchers. This includes developing and modifying policies as needed, strengthening mentorship programs, enhancing diversity and securing funding for the development of the next generation of researchers.

Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) of 2013

AVMA: Active pursuit of defeat

This bill would amend the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to eliminate the use of antibiotics in food animals for other purposes than to medically treat or prevent illness. Some believe the use antimicrobials contributes to the resistance of bacteria and other microbes to medically important drugs. The AVMA says that, as written, this bill would limit veterinarians’ ability to ensure optimal animal health and welfare and, therefore, food safety. The legislation calls for risk-management strategies that the AVMA does not believe are commensurate with the level of risk.

Preventing Antibiotics Resistance Act (PARA)

AVMA: Active pursuit of defeat

This bill would require an applicant for approval of a new animal drug to be a “medically important antimicrobial” to demonstrate that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to human health due to the development of antimicrobial resistance attributable to the nontherapeutic use of the drug.

Antimicrobial Data Collection Act

AVMA: Nonsupport

Requires the secretary of health and human services (HHS), acting through the commissioner of food and drugs (FDA), to develop a research program to study the relationship between the sales, distribution and end-use practices of animal drugs containing an antimicrobial active ingredient in food-producing animals and antimicrobial resistance trends.

Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act

AVMA: Support

The STAAR Act provides for data collection aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance. It would encourage clinical trials for microbial therapies, vaccines and diagnostics. It would also require the establishment of an antimicrobial office and a task force to monitor antimicrobial resistance.

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