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Legislative Synopsis for 2013

by James B. Reed, DVM

The Legislative session closed this year with a few unexpected results:

House Bill 78 (HB 78) was proposed as an emergency bill to address the current ruling in the Maryland Court of Appeals (Tracey v. Solesky) labeling all pit bull dogs as inherently dangerous. The intent of the bill was to negate the court ruling by creating a rebuttable presumption that an owner of any breed of dog knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities, that is, the dog would be considered dangerous until proven otherwise to the court. Although this bill passed the House of Representatives it failed to pass the Senate as Senate Bill 160 (SB 160) before adjournment in April.

Much public disappointment exists regarding the impact of the judicial ruling on the pit bull breed in Maryland since owners of purebred pit bulls and landlords of tenants who own purebred pit bulls are made strictly liable for the actions of those dogs. We expect to see this issue again in the 2014 January session. The MVMA will continue to support legislative action against breed-specific court rulings. The MVMA will also continue to monitor for any liability to veterinarians that may occur secondary to legislation in this area.

House Bill 767 and the corresponding Senate Bill 820 were passed, creating a special, non-lapsing Spay/Neuter fund supported by fees collected from non-agricultural pet food sold in Maryland. Last minute amendments withdrew the proposed voucher programs, substituting a grant program to continue support for existing services and facilities. This bill was supported by the MVMA and the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Senate Bill 520 was introduced early in the session seeking to prohibit use of antimicrobials in commercial animal food and drinking water for non-therapeutic use and in the absence of disease diagnosed by a veterinarian. This bill never made it out of committee for vote. The MVMA collaborated with AVMA legislative services to oppose this proposal.

The Maryland General Assembly Session will reconvene in January 2014. The MVMAs lobbyist, William Erskine, will keep the Legislative Committee aware of proposed bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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2014 Maryland Veterinary Medical Association

Maryland Veterinary Medical Association l PO Box 5407 l Annapolis, MD 21403
phone: 410-268-1311 l fax: 410-268-1322

e-mail: MVMA@KeyAssnMgt.com