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Relating to peace officers commissioned by the State Board of
Veterinary Medical Examiners.
No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1099 would allow the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to commission peace officers to enforce rules and regulations regarding the practice of veterinary medicine contained in Chapter 801 of the Occupations Code.
Texas Action opposes this bill which infringes on our free market and limited government principles. The Veterinary Licensing Act (Chapter 801, Occupations Code) regulates the practice of veterinary medicine, which is a licensed occupation. Violations of this statute constitute a Class A misdemeanor.
The Commission to Study and Review Certain Penal Laws was created by the 84th Legislature and renewed by the 85th Legislature for the purpose of reviewing this state's criminal laws outside of the penal code and make recommendations to the legislature regarding those laws.
In its final report, the Commission recommended that the legislature repeal criminal penalties under the Veterinary Practice Act and amend administrative and civil penalties to substantially reduce fines.
The Commission went on to note "Chapter 801 (regulating veterinarians) is enforceable using an administrative penalty, in addition to an existing civil penalty for unlicensed practice. The TBVME has a history of (mis)using the threat of criminal penalties when sending cease and desist letters to perceived competition by dog groomers (for brushing dog's teeth), and to horse-teeth floaters (an animal husbandry practice such as horseshoeing), and claiming that such acts constitute the unlicensed practice of veterinary dentistry."
This legislation is inconsistent with the findings and recommendations of the Commission and in fact moves in the opposite direction by giving increased enforcement authority to a licensing board which is apparently known for misusing threat of criminal penalties. For these reasons we oppose giving the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners authority to commission and employ peace officers. To the extent that they need to be involved in criminal investigations it would be preferable for the Board to work with existing local law enforcement in jurisdictions where violations of relevant criminal law may arise.