Colorado Veterinary Practice Act bill passes next milestones

Colorado Veterinary Practice Act bill passes next milestones

Update as of 4/29/22: HB 22-1235 passed the the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, April 27.

Update as of 4/14/22: HB 22-1235 passed the third reading of the House of Representatives on Monday, April 11.

Update as of 3/18/22: HB 22-1235 passed the House Finance Committee on Thursday, March 17.

Original article published Friday, March 11.

HB 22-1235 (the renewal of the the Colorado Veterinary Practice Act), successfully passed another milestone following a committee hearing at the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee on Monday, March 7.

CVMA and its team of veterinary witnesses represented CVMA during the committee hearing. Representative Karen McCormick, DVM, chair of the committee and CVMA member, led the introduction of the bill during the committee process.

The bill was moved forward unanimously by the committee, with all committee members expressing their positive recommendation of the bill. The bill next will go before the house committees on finance and appropriations as well as second and third readings in the House of Representatives before going to the Senate.

What’s included in the bill?

While the bill has not been passed by legislators or signed into law by the governor, these are the key changes included in HB 22-1235 as it currently stands.

1. Continues the veterinary practice act for 11 more years until 2033.

2. Establishes regulation of veterinary technicians (this amendment was proposed jointly by CVMA and CACVT):

  • Adds a definition of a veterinary professional as a licensed veterinarian or a registered veterinary technician
  • Revises the Veterinary Peer Health Assistance Program section to include veterinary technicians and reorganizes it to improve understanding

3. Expands the administration of rabies vaccines:

  • Allows administration of rabies vaccine under supervision of a licensed veterinarian
  • Amends public health statute 25-4-607 to allow veterinarians to delegate under indirect supervision the administration of rabies vaccinations in a public health emergency situation

4. Expands continuing education requirements for license renewal:

  • Allows veterinarians to receive up to 16 hours of credit toward relicensing for continuing education on topics such as client communication, management, leadership, wellbeing and developing a highly function veterinary workforce
  • Requires two hours of jurisprudence CE on the veterinary practice act per license renewal period

5. Requires veterinarians to create a written plan for the storage, security, and disposal of patient records.

6. Permits the state veterinary board to require a physical examination of a licensed veterinarian if there is reasonable cause to believe the veterinarian is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety (Note: This provision exists in other practice acts such as the Dentist and Dental Hygienists Practice Act, Medical Practice Act, Nurses and Nurse Aides Practice Act, and Pharmacists Practice Act)

7. Repeals the requirement that the state veterinary board send a letter of admonition by certified mail.

8. Cleans up vague or conflicting language related to supervision:

  • Defines indirect supervision
  • Resolves conflicting language among 12-315-105 (b) and (k) and 12-315-116 regarding duties delegated to veterinary students under direct supervision
  • Clarifies the requirements concerning confidential agreements

What’s next for the bill?

The bill next will go before the house committees on finance and appropriations as well as second and third readings in the House of Representatives before going to the Senate. Public testimony in a senate committee will again be heard, and CVMA plans to testify again in support of the bill. Once the bill passes the legislature, it will head to the governor’s desk this summer for his signature.

Technician regulation

In particular, CVMA and CACVT were jointly encouraged by the committee’s support for regulation of technicians. CVMA and CACVT have been working together to introduce technician regulation since 2020; a joint goal shared by both organizations has been to retain everyone currently working as a veterinary technician in Colorado and to provide inclusive opportunities for regulation. Both organizations were pleased to see legislators take steps toward regulating technicians in Colorado during the bill’s initial hearing.

“Together, we believe that public transparency, expanded access to veterinary personal, and optimal utilization of veterinary staff are crucial for Colorado’s veterinary profession,” said CVMA CEO Diane Matt.

Listen to the full committee recording

Interested in listening to the full committee recording, including the testimony provided to the committee by CVMA? A recording of the meeting is available at:

Note: Multiple topics were discussed during the committee meeting; use the scroll bar on the screen to scroll to 2:10 p.m. when discussion of the Colorado Veterinary Practice Act bill began.

CVMA testimony

Don’t have time to listen to the full committee recording? Read the testimonies provided by CVMA veterinarians below.

Testimony 1: Ashley Ackley, DVM (President, CVMA)

CVMA is the voice of the veterinary profession in Colorado. The CVMA was founded in 1888 and veterinarians have been licensed in Colorado since 1907. On behalf of the CVMA Board of Directors, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today. I want  to thank Representative McCormick for sponsoring HB22-1235. Her personal experience as a veterinarian and practice owner give her unique insight into the profession and the relevance of this bill. I’ll also add that CVMA very much appreciates the co-sponsorship of Representative Catlin and all the others who are cosponsors on the bill.

Given the breadth of this committee’s membership, I expect you have a clear sense of the wide range of ways that veterinarians are essential to the protection of animal and human health and welfare in our state. Continuation of the Veterinary Practice Act is critical to our ability to continue to provide veterinary services to Coloradans and their animals.

Colorado veterinarians take pride in the level of care that we have been delivering since 1907 when we were first regulated. The requirements for licensure as a veterinarian in Colorado are high and rigorous. Every veterinarian, to be licensed in Colorado, must graduate from an accredited veterinary program, and must pass a national competency examination. These requirements are in place to protect both animal and human health. The Veterinary Practice Act upholds these high standards, and the Sunset Review by the Department of Regulatory Agencies determined that the profession is accomplishing these goals.

CVMA is very pleased to register its full support of this bill, and I ask that you vote in favor of the bill today.

Testimony 2: Michelle Larsen, DVM (Chair, CVMA Sunset Review Practice Act Task Force)

I served as chair of CVMA’s Task Force that reviewed the Veterinary Practice Act concurrent with the DORA Sunset Review. CVMA’s Task Force included twelve veterinarians from locations across the state, the animal shelter community, Colorado State University was represented, large animal veterinarians, as well as veterinarians who care for companion animals.

This Sunset Review was conducted at a remarkable time – during a global pandemic. Veterinarians, like all other medical professions were called upon to modify their ways of practicing, to conserve personal protective equipment, to loan ventilators, to curtail services, to keep their colleagues and clients safe, all while working in very close proximity with each other and their clients. Through all of this, veterinarians, like other medical providers, put their patients first, and focused on providing the best possible care.

During the pandemic, CVMA’s Task Force met frequently and CVMA’s Task Force identified three main goals to be advanced through changes to the veterinary practice act:

  • First, retain and increase the wellbeing of all veterinary staff.
  • Second, encourage veterinarians to develop their knowledge of client communication, management, and leadership to support a highly effective and thriving veterinary workforce.
  • And third, build the profession’s capacity to utilize veterinary staff as effectively as possible.

All of these will contribute to the high level of care that veterinarians continuously deliver to animals and their owners in Colorado. Let me ask my colleague, Dr. Sam Romano to provide a few details on the practice act that is before you.

Testimony 3: Will French, DVM (Past president, CVMA)

The last Sunset Review was conducted eleven years ago. This bill, HB22-1235 originated with a Sunset Review and it recommends continuation of the practice act for eleven more years. The bill also responds to a Sunrise Review for Veterinary Technicians. HB22-1235 is the culmination of DORA’s sunset review report, the recommendations of the CVMA Task Force and Board, and the collaborative work with the Colorado Association of Veterinary Technicians.

I want to call your attention to several key provisions of HB22-1235:

  • The bill permits administration of the rabies vaccine under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian which will help expand capacity for rabies vaccine administration.
  • It would allow veterinarians to earn up to 16 hours of non-technical continuing education per license renewal period out of a total of 32 hours. This will increase veterinarians’ knowledge on non-technical issues like financial and practice management, and leadership to help veterinarians better manage effectiveness and work-life balance in their practices.
  • We included a requirement to self-refer for drug or alcohol related arrests to the Veterinary Peer Health Assistance Program to move people sooner toward care for such conditions.
  • And finally, the bill includes an entirely new section – Part 2 – that regulates veterinary technicians, who have a critical role on the veterinary team. Representatives from CACVT will fill you in on the details of this part of HB22-1235.

As others have indicated, the CVMA Board of Directors is in full support of these provisions, and I respectfully ask for your “yes” vote.

Testimony 4: Jackie Christakos, DVM (Immediate past president, CVMA)

Like the others who have testified today, I am grateful for Representative McCormick’s willingness to dig in and understand the details of what this bill includes. She recognizes the importance of veterinary care to the health and welfare of Colorado’s animals and its citizens. We are all deeply appreciative of the work that all of you do to govern our state. Thank you.

  • Veterinarians and their veterinary teams are compassionate animal healers and protectors.
  • They act as grief counselors who support and nurture the human-animal bond when cherished animals are sick, injured, or dying.
  • Veterinarians keep animal herds healthy, and they perform critical food safety roles that ensure our food supply is safe.
  • Veterinarians are the first line of defense against zoonotic disease – diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans – parasites, viruses, bacterial and fungal infections.
  • They are “sentries” for animal disease – often it is a veterinarian who notifies the State Veterinarian of an unusual or dangerous disease in farm animals, livestock, or companion animals.
  • And sometimes, veterinarians are called upon to safely carry out mass depopulation events when needed.

CVMA’s Board and Task Force have taken our work on the Continuation of the Veterinary Practice Act very seriously, because we want the veterinary profession to be prepared to serve the animals and citizens of Colorado, with the best appropriate care. We want to meet the requirements of our veterinary oath to use our scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

Our panel is happy to respond to any questions you have, and we respectfully request your vote to pass HB 22-1235.