Regulatory / Legislative Committee Nancy Ehrlich, RVT - Chair and Liaison
A CaRVTA Regulatory/Legislative Committee member is in attendance at all VMB, RVT Task Force, and MDC meetings to report on information that is important to our members, as well as to represent CaRVTA when appropriate. The Leg/Reg Committee is looking for more committee members. If you are interested, be sure to e-mail Nancy Ehrlich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most state meetings take place in Sacramento, although VMB meetings sometimes are scheduled for Southern California.
CaRVTA works hard to make sure our members' voices are heard in Sacramento, from representation at California's Veterinary Medical Board meetings, VMB committee meetings and the State legislature to member e-news and alerts. Your CaRVTA Board also works with the State government to promote legislation favorable to the RVT profession, such as adding an RVT to the VMB and granting title protection for RVTs. In addition to regulations and laws, the VMB is also the RVT licensing body. Below, we have listed important VMB tools and resources that student and professional RVTs will find useful throughout their careers.
Unlicensed Veterinary Activity
When the VMB receives a complaint about unlicensed activity, it first investigates the complaint. Second, it sends a Cease & Desist letter to the individual, giving them an opportunity to explain whether or not they are actually engaged in the unlicensed activity. If they are performing the activity and do not desist, they are issued a citation and fine. They may also be referred to the local District Attorney for criminal prosecution. The VMB has passed a motion to direct its legal counsel to investigate further enforcement options.
How Veterinary Medicine is Regulated
Nancy Ehrlich, RVT
Regulatory/Legislative Advocate, CaRVTA
The rules governing the practice of veterinary medicine in California are compiled in the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act, commonly known as The Practice Act (https://vmb.ca.gov/forms_pubs/gen_pubs.shtml). The book also contains laws and regulations related to veterinary medicine written by other agencies as well as the Radiation Safety Guide.
The statutes, or laws written by the legislature, define the scope of practice and authorize the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) to write regulations. The Veterinary Medical Board ’s regulations clarify and make specific the laws written by the legislature
The Veterinary Medical Board, as part of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), has consumer protection as its primary function. Virtually all of its activity must be carried out in public. The VMB also has a Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee (MDC). The regulatory process affords the public multiple opportunities for input. Most regulations written by the VMB start at the MDC. The VMB assigns topics to the MDC for discussion, which must be open to the public. After the MDC has approved a proposed regulation, it is sent to the VMB for its review. This review is also open to the public. After publishing the proposal and taking public input, if the VMB adopts the proposal, it is then sent to a variety of agencies. If approved by all of the other agencies, the regulation goes into effect.
RVTs must be mindful that as licensed professionals, we are subject to discipline by the VMB if we violate any of the sections of the Practice Act. We can be cited and fined, or in extreme cases, have our licenses revoked. It is critical that RVTs understand the Practice Act and their responsibilities as licensees.
As residents of California, we are fortunate to live in a state that promotes citizen participation in the regulatory process. The various open meetings acts in this state require that all government business, with very few exceptions, must be conducted in the open, with the ability of the public to comment. RVTs are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the process by subscribing to the VMB ’s email list (https://www.vmb.ca.gov/webapps/subscribe.php). People on the list receive updates to laws and regulations affecting veterinary medicine as well as announcements about VMB/MDC meetings.
Attendees at VMB meetings may speak up on issues before the Board and, therefore, have the opportunity to affect the outcome. Thanks to the pandemic, the VMB will now be meeting both in-person and on-line, which greatly facilitates participation.
Democracy works only to the extent that citizens participate.
Nancy Ehrlich, RVT
Regulatory/Legislative Advocate, CaRVTA
April 24, 2021
The Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee (MDC) met on April 21 via the web. It was announced that Dr. Warner moved out of state and would no longer be on the committee and that Dr. Lazarcheff’s term was expiring. Maria Sperber was introduced as a new Public Member.
The MDC initially approved a variety of definitions for telemedicine, telehealth, etc., but decided to continue working on the definitions at the next meeting. They also approved a series of FAQs on the VCPR, but will be working on adding more.
The MDC reported that they have consulted with other boards about their inspection programs. Many other boards use full-time employees rather than licensee contractors as the VMB does. They also reported that they re looking at a mobile app that inspectors could use as soon a 2022.
The Complaint Audit Subcommittee reported that cost recovery is extremely difficult, although they are trying hard to do so.
The MDC is working on creating content for CE webinars that would be free to licensees. Topics mentioned so far include Inspections, Enforcement, VMB Overview and Telemedicine. The MDC is seeking volunteers to create content.
The Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) met on April 22-23 via the web. Carrie Holmes, Deputy Director of the DCA reported that unless the law is changed, all boards will have to return to meeting in person once the pandemic is over.
Kristi Pawlowski, RVT, Chair of the MDC presented the MDC report. She informed the VMB that they will be reworking the definitions of telemedicine, etc. She also presented the recommendation that the VMB approve the AAVSB’s foreign graduate program for RVTs (PAVE for RVTs). The VMB approved the motion. The VMB also voted to extend all waivers until the end of the emergency.
Ms. Pawlowski presented the VMB with a proposal to create a $100 application fee for the VACSP and to raise the VACSP fee from $50 to $100. It has become clear that the VACSP program is not bringing in sufficient revenue to cover its costs under the current structure. The VMB voted to approve the new fees and to add them to the Sunset legislation.
The VMB voted to reappoint Dr. Lazarcheff to the MDC and to add Dr. Dianne Sequoia to replace Dr. Warner.
The VMB next moved on to discuss proposed legislation. The VMB noted that it was early in the legislative process, so they had time to take positions on bills. They decided to move forward. The VMB voted to support AB1282 if funded. That bill will require the eventual closing of closed canine blood banks to be replaced by community blood banks. The also voted to support AB1535 which changes the term “diversion” to “wellness”. The also voted to support SB344 which provides grants for homeless shelters to include pets and veterinary care.
Next was a discussion of proposed regulations. The regulatory change that allows an RVT in an emergency to provide emergency aid including pain management goes into effect on July 1, 2021. The change allowing drug prescriptions in the absence of the original DVM went into effect on April 1, 2021. The regulation allowing RVTs to apply casts and splints under Indirect Supervision went into effect on April 1, 2021. For details, go to: https://vmb.ca.gov/meetings/materials/20210422_23_8_a_pending_regulations.pdf
The VMB meeting continued on April 23 with a hearing on the possibility of putting the San Joaquin Valley College RVT Program on probation due to their low VTNE pass rates. After hearing a presentation from representatives of the school describing the improvements they have made to their program, the VMB voted to not put the program on probation at this time.
Under the Executive Management Reports, the VMB discussed the possibility of continuing to meet virtually - perhaps 2 in-person, 2 virtual, in order to facilitate people being able to attend. They also reported that they are taking in more revenue than anticipated due to the fee increases. The staff reported that they are aware of complaints about not answering the phone at the VMB office and are working to resolve the issue.
After a closed session, the VMB voted to reappoint Kathy Bowler as a representative to the AAVSB and to nominate Dr. Mark Nunez as AAVBS President. They noted that 50% of all current complaints are designated as “high priority”, which puts them in an untenable position. They will consider reevaluating the rating system so that something closer to 10% of cases would be considered “high priority”. They also noted that the mandate that the VMB inspect 20% of all facilities yearly is unreasonable. They noted that other boards do not have any mandate for inspections at all.
It was noted that the next MDC/VMB meeting on July 21-23 will be virtual.
FINGERPRINTING OF VETERINARY LICENSEES
Some veterinarians and RVTs are receiving notifications from the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) that they need to be fingerprinted in order to renew their license. We received the following information from VMB regarding this requirement.
“The fingerprint requirement is not a new requirement. California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 2010.05 states, in part, the following:
As a condition of renewal of a license, a veterinarian who was initially licensed prior to January 1, 1960, a registered veterinary technician who was initially licensed prior to January 1, 2004, or any licensee for whom an electronic record of the submission of fingerprints no longer exists or was never created, shall furnish to the Department of Justice a full set of fingerprints for the purpose of conducting a criminal history record check and to undergo a state and federal level criminal offender record information search conducted through the Department of Justice.
This regulation took effect in 2012 after a legislative change to BPC section 144 requiring fingerprint results from DOJ and FBI (only DOJ was required prior to that). At that time, all boards listed under BPC section 144 underwent rulemaking to bring current licensees into compliance during their renewal period. Unfortunately, the licensing system at the time was not designed to check for or hold renewals in the absence of fingerprint results. BreEZe, however, was recently designed to check for DOJ and FBI results. If results are missing, licensees are notified accordingly.
If a licensee/registrant was fingerprinted before, but the system is indicating the need for fingerprint results, it’s possible it was before the fingerprints were required to go to the FBI. It’s also possible that when a licensee/registrant submitted fingerprints, the box was not checked to send to the FBI. Regardless, if a licensee/registrant received notification from the Board indicating the need for fingerprint results, it’s because an electronic record of the submission of fingerprints no longer exists or was never created.”