News from the capitol – week 4

News from the capitol – week 4

state budget concerns brings legislative session to a halt

The state budget is proving more challenging than anticipated.  Lawmakers are grappling with how to responsibly reduce state spending, provide raises for teachers and low-earning state employees, and follow through on their commitment to lower the state income tax rate.

As a result, legislators have agreed to hit pause on the calendar and allow for additional budget workdays.  The new calendar canceled yesterday’s legislative day and pushed the next day of session to February 18.  Lawmakers will spend all of next week in budget hearings.  Crossover Day is currently slated for March 12 but that’s also dependent on internal budget benchmarks being met.

Priority Issues

Professional Health Program (SB 346)              Sen. Ellis Black, R-Valdosta (Update: Assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on Feb-3)

SB346 comes at the request of the Association.  It allows the state board to contract with a professional health program to provide rehabilitative services to impaired veterinarians.  Additionally, the measure creates a seat on the state board for a veterinary technician.

Mandatory Microchip Scans (HB 866)   Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough (Update: Assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on Feb-5)

As introduced, HB 866 appears to require a veterinarian or veterinary technician to:

  • Scan each animal that receives care for a microchip,
  • Contact the microchip company to determine what ownership information it has on file for the animal, and
  • Report to the Department of Agriculture, animal control officer, law enforcement agency, or prosecuting attorney if the microchip information indicates a different owner than the individual presenting the animal for treatment.

Nearly identical language is already in place to require a veterinarian to report if they have “reasonable cause to believe that an animal has been subjected to animal cruelty” (OCGA 4-11-17).  However, in the language proposed in HB 866 there is no “reasonable cause” component that would require a veterinarian to contact a microchip company only if there is doubt about ownership.