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Capitol Report
by Thomas Hagerty, DVM

The Government Affairs Committee (GAC) met on November 17, 2011 to develop the MVMAs  legislative agenda for the 2012 session of the Minnesota Legislature which will convene on January 24. The committee reviewed and debated the issues before developing its list of legislative priorities that it approved and forwarded to the MVMA & Board of Directors for its approval.

The committee invited Representative Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake, MN to attend the meeting to discuss not only the animal agriculture issues that he anticipates will be brought up during the upcoming session but he also addressed the issue involving the regulation of dog and cat breeders. Representative Hamilton is the chair of the House Agriculture and Rural Development committee that would have jurisdiction over legislation involving animal breeders. ;

He explained that 2012 is an election year as well as a redistricting year. Consequently, it is expected that this will be a short session that may adjuourn in April. Because of this he said that with a bonding bill, a supplemental budget bill, and the Viking stadium issue, he does not expect that legislation such as breeder regulation will have an opportunity to be heard in committee. The breeder regulation and the proposed licensing of veterinary technicians are both issues that a consensus has not yet been arrived at and will not be ready to be put before the legislature in the upcoming 2012 session.

Following extensive debate on the legislative agenda the GAC agreed on 15 items with just five items identified for the 2012 session. GAC members expressed frustration with the constant bickering during the previous session and called on legislators to work in a bipartisan manner to benefit the citizens of the state. 
    The committee reaffirmed the MVMA s position statement on the regulation of dog and cat breeders and recommended that the board of directors establish a task force to address the issue.  

    The committee recommended support of the Board of Animal Health and Minnesota Department of Health’s proposal for statewide mandatory rabies vaccination of dogs.
     The committee recommended the MVMA’s continued support for the independent status of the Board of Veterinary Medicine and the Board of Animal Health. 

    The committee also recommended that the MVMA  continue to oppose any weakening  of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s regulation on the sale of raw milk.

    A proposal that may be ready in 2012 is a Board of Animal Health initiative supported by the Department of Health that would require that all dogs in the state be vaccinated for rabies. Currently certain municipalities require rabies vaccination but there is no statewide requirement. A number of states have this mandate.

    Drs. John King and Tom Hagerty were named to a Prescription Monitoring Program  Task Force by the Board of Pharmacy . The Board was required by the Legislature to determine if veterinarians should report the dispensing of “controlled substances”. Veterinarians are currently exempted from reporting but must record both the use and dispensing of these substances. The Task Force reviewed other states positions on this issue and conducted a survey of Minnesota veterinarians to determine the extent of this dispensing. Many veterinarians write prescriptions for these products to be filled at pharmacies. The pharmacies must report the sale of these products. The Task Force ultimately recommended to the Board of Pharmacy that veterinarians remain exempt from reporting. 
    The 2011 session of the legislature established a “Sunset Commission”  t o review the current status of health related boards such as the Board of Veterinary Medicine as well as other boards and commissions. The intent of this review is to determine if these activities of state government continue to be relevant and if the activity could be served within another agency or, in the case of the health related boards, the establishment of a “super board” as is the case in some states.  

    Your legislative team of Cory Bennett lobbyist with Bennett Government Consulting, Mike Franklin and Lydia Bjorge with Lockridge Grindal, Nauen, Dan Tjornehoj and Tom Hagerty will be monitoring the 2012 legislative session and are prepared  to educate the appropriate legislators on the positions of the MVMA.  The MVMA’s 2012 legislative agenda is available on the MVMA’s website.  Please contact the MVMA office if you have questions about any of the points above.

For more information contact Dr. Hagerty at 651-402-7347 or Dan Tjornehoj at the MVMA office.


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