The 94th General Assembly of the Arkansas Legislature adjourned last Friday. Therefore,
I wanted to share with you a final summary of those bills filed which would have
affected our profession.
This has been a very unusual year, politically, with a new governor who won with 63%
of the vote and both the Senate and House composed of overwhelming majorities with
the same political party affiliation as the Executive Branch. Under these circumstances,
most members of the legislature were unwilling to oppose their leadership or the
Executive Branch on issues presented.
I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the membership of our association. Even
through some very frustrating and contentious times, you came together and made
personal contacts, phone calls, texts, and emails to the legislators expressing your
opinions on the various bills. Several of you came to Little Rock and testified in
committee when called upon. We also had the support of the AVMA who provided
people to testify before committees, wrote letters to the legislative leadership and
provided a lobbyist to assist our own lobbyist. Your actions made a favorable impression
on the legislators and had a big impact on the final outcome of the legislation presented.
This year you showed the power of the association!
Final Legislative Summary:
HB1182 (Act 161) – expanded the role of Veterinary Technician Specialists. Your
association OPPOSED this bill. We did achieve having the ability of a VTS to write
prescriptions removed from the bill. Also, the “Collaborative Practice Agreement”
clause was amended to prevent a VTS from receiving direct payments from the client
but would be a salaried employee of a veterinarian. This provides better legal protection
for the veterinarian in case of a malpractice claim. This bill passed and was signed by
HB156 (Act 452) – simply corrected drafting errors in the amendment placed in HB1182
(Act 161). The association was neutral on this “housekeeping bill”, which passed and
was signed by the Governor.
SB5 – to allow a veterinary client patient relationship to be established by telemedicine.
Your association OPPOSED this bill. This bill was defeated on the Senate floor and died
in the Senate upon adjournment.
SB403 – to consolidate and abolish certain boards within the Department of Agriculture.
This bill abolished the Veterinary Medical Examining Board (along with 9 other boards)
so that “state government services are provided in an efficient and cost-effective
manner; to achieve both operational efficiencies and economies of scale”. Your
association OPPOSED the elimination of the VMEB. We had several meetings with the
Secretary of Agriculture to remove the VMEB from this bill. That did not happen.
However, we were able to negotiate a compromise assuring that two small animal
veterinarians will be placed on the subcommittee. This will provide for two veterinarians
familiar with small animal practice in all hearing proceedings, along with the two
Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission veterinarians. This bill passed and has
been transferred to the Governor’s Office.
HB1673 – to allow a person with a “Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with
a pre-veterinary emphasis” to be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National
Exam (VTNE). Your association OPPOSED this bill. This bill failed in committee and
died in committee upon adjournment.
HB1662 – to allow the sale or shipping of antibiotics and microbials for veterinary
medical use directly from a wholesaler, distributor, pharmacy, or farm store to a client if
the veterinary drugs and medicines are dispensed based only on a prescription from a
licensed veterinarian who has an existing veterinary-client-patient relationship with the
client. This complies with a new FDA rule starting in June that will require a
prescription for injectable antibiotics. Your association was NEUTRAL on this bill. This
bill passed and has been transferred to the Governor’s Office.
SB476 – to create a Rural Veterinary Student Scholarship Program, utilizing
accumulated funds from the Veterinary Medical Examining Board and other funds, to be
administered by the Department of Agriculture. This Scholarship Program would be
available to graduates agreeing to establish practices in rural communities in Arkansas,
designated as underserved and having a population of less than 40,000 people. This bill
passed and has been transferred to the Governor’s Office.
HB1453 – to require veterinarians to perform emergency treatment of animals,
regardless of client status or ability to pay. Your association OPPOSED this bill. It was
withdrawn by the author.
As stated earlier, this has been a very unusual legislative session. There are four specific
people who carried the load for us during these past 3 months:
THANK YOU to Rodney Baker, lobbyist and Bruce Holland, AVMA sponsored
assistant lobbyist who spent innumerable hours monitoring the bills, coordinating
testimonies before committees and making sure we provided appropriate legislative
THANK YOU to our colleague, Dr. Paul Jenkins, who provided legislative leadership
throughout the session and sacrificed many hours away from his clinic to work on our
behalf in Little Rock.
THANK YOU to Maggie Milligan, our Executive Director, who worked early to late
making sure we were kept updated with Legislative Updates, and standing in the front
line of emails and texts directed toward our legislative efforts.
Finally, THANK YOU, once again, to all of you for your help in contacting the
legislators during this session.
Everett Rogers, DVM
President, Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association