Bill to change veterinary licensure removed from consideration

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is backing off his attempt to change professional licensing procedures until next year.

During the initial stages of the 2012 legislative session, he pitched the idea as a way to streamline the system of issuing more than 450,000 licenses, including professions from architects to veterinarians, and to speed up procedures to hear complaints against professionals, but many were unhappy with his idea.

Sen. Bill Hamrick, R-Carrollton, introduced an 800-plus-page bill to change the system for Kemp, which was heard in a committee earlier in February, but he withdrew Senate Bill 445 at Kemp's request on February 24. Kemp said he will take the criticisms he heard and try again with revised legislation in 2013.

Kemp said the bill was too big to modify and get passed before the legislative session ends.  The bill would have had to pass one chamber of the General Assembly in the next five working days to have a chance at passage.

Licenses are issued by more than 40 professional boards in Georgia, who are appointed by the governor. Kemp supplies the staff for the boards. He proposed letting his staff and a new seven-member board take full responsibility for license approvals and disciplinary hearings, with the boards reduced to setting policies and advisory roles in licensing.

GVMA’s role
Because the legislation proposed by Kemp would have had the potential to provide non-veterinarians the authority to hear and decide disciplinary cases against veterinarians, the GVMA voiced its concern and sought more information.

On February 2, the GVMA’s Veterinarians’ Day at the Capitol included a presentation on the proposal by a representative from the Secretary of State’s office. The GVMA also arranged a meeting with Kemp that included GVMA leaders and several members of the Georgia State Board of Veterinary Medicine. Several members of the Secretary of State’s office fielded questions during the hour-long meeting. Veterinarians in the room took exception to allowing non-veterinarians to decide disciplinary cases against veterinarians, but were pleased that the policy board comprised of veterinarians would still be used in an advisory role, and veterinarians would have the opportunity to appeal disciplinary actions taken by the Secretary of State’s office.

Members of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine were mostly in agreement with the premise of the proposals, which would streamline the licensure process. While the legislation would have allowed Secretary of State staff to approve licensure applications, this largely administrative function would have done little to change the role of the veterinary board. In fact, the goal of the legislation was to bring other licensure boards more in-line with the way the veterinary board functions today.

Though the legislation has been pulled from consideration this legislation session, Secretary of State Kemp plans to fine tune the legislation over the summer, and intends to introduce a new bill next year. The GVMA has a few questions and concerns about the wording as it stands today, and will work with the Secretary of State’s office to amend language that could adversely impact veterinarians.

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