California in the news

Several newsworthy items relating to the veterinary world have come out of California recently.

Practice Act legislation signed

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1980 into law on Sept. 30, which finalized several changes to the state’s Veterinary Medicine Practice Act. The bill was co-sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the state Veterinary Medical Board (VMB).

"The CVMA was originally opposed to the VMB’s effort to add two RVTs to the VMB which would have resulted in a non-veterinarian majority on the Board," the CVMA says on its website. "Many months of discussion between the two groups accomplished the addition of one RVT to the VMB which we felt was an important recognition of the RVT profession yet retained the veterinarian majority. The CVMA also insisted on changes to the composition of the Multidisciplinary Committee and termination of the RVT Committee upon the appointment of an RVT to the Board."

 According to the CVMA, the Practice Act changes in this bill include:

  • Change the composition of the Veterinary Medical Board to 8 members by adding one RVT 
  • Sunset the existing RVT Committee upon the appointment of an RVT to the VMB
  • Define the composition of the Multidisciplinary Committee as 4 DVMs, 2 RVTs and 1 public member; stagger the terms, and consolidate the RVT Committee’s duties into the Multidisciplinary Committee
  • Define the title "veterinary technician"
  • Clarify that persons who operate radiographic equipment must have training and proof of that training must be maintained by the employer
  • Amend the Government Code to include veterinarians and RVTs, among other healing arts professions, as having no liability for any injury sustained when rendering services during a state of emergency
  • Changes the requirements regarding reporting of an animal injury at a rodeo by both on-call veterinarians and by veterinarians that know an injury occurred at a rodeo.

Sales tax on veterinary services

California is reconsidering a proposed sales tax on various services in order to make up the state’s severe budget deficit. California’s estimated budget shortfall for the current fiscal year is about $6 billion, and that number is close to $20 billion for the next fiscal year. The current proposal suggests a 3.6 percent tax on various services including veterinary services. That is down from the 8-9 percent tax proposed on the same services last year.

Representatives from the CVMA testified at the state Legislature Revenue and Taxation Committees joint hearing on the tax reform proposal.

Lobbyist Christina DiCaro addressed the committee on behalf of the CVMA.

"You might recall in the 2009 proposal that veterinary services were singled out along with auto repair, as if they were similar in any regard," DiCaro said. "We don’t want to see any more disincentives for getting proper treatment for our animals."

DiCaro also pointed out that in the previous incarnation of the proposal, veterinarians were the only medical profession singled out for the tax.

"We would just like to be kept in similar company with our medical professional friends as discussions go forward on whether or not you include medical services," she said.

Pet insurance bill stopped at governor’s desk

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 2411, which would have required pet insurance companies to provide more information about their plans to pet owners, namely:

  • if the policy excludes coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition or other disorder
  • any policy provision that limits coverage in a specified manner
  • whether the insurer reduces coverage or increases premiums based on claims experience in any preceding policy period.

"This bill would provide for the regulation of pet insurance by the Department of Insurance and require various disclosures from pet insurers," Gov. Schwarzenegger wrote in a letter. "Existing law provides for the regulation of various types of insurance, by the Department of Insurance, including pet insurance, if there is a demonstrated need. As such, this bill is not necessary."

NEWStat Legislation & regulation