Many baby boomers may remember a Rolling Stone song with Mick Jagger bemoaning this dilemma. So often in the legislative process compromise is necessary, usually resulting in both sides not quite getting everything they hoped for in a piece of legislation. I share this blog post to demonstrate what can happen if you can convince enough legislators before the legislative session begins that your concern is worthy of a bill.
We heard the veterinarians and veterinary wholesalers of Colorado had a very busy summer. They lobbied and sent letters to legislators and former legislators complaining that their concerns were not being heard by the Colorado Board of Pharmacy.
Their proposed “only” remedy for addressing these concerns was legislation, so a bill was introduced in the Colorado 2016 legislative session that would add two additional members to the Colorado State Board of Pharmacy, “who are engaged in the practice of, or otherwise professionally interested in, veterinary medicine or animal agriculture.”
When the pharmacy community first heard about this bill, we went to the veterinarian association to find out exactly what they were hoping to achieve. The response from the veterinarians was “What bill? We haven’t introduced any such bill.” Nevertheless, such a bill was introduced.
Senate Bill 62 had the simple title “Concerning Modifications to the Regulation of Veterinary Pharmaceuticals” but it was anything but simple. This is what you can accomplish if you begin lobbying in the summer:
- The bill is introduced in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, despite the fact that the bill makes changes exclusively to the Colorado pharmacy statute and these bills are usually referred to the Health and Human Services committee.
- The bill has 14 Senate sponsors and 16 House sponsors, both Republican and Democrat. Compare this to single or dual sponsorship of most bills at introduction.
- One of the Senate sponsors is the chair of the Agriculture committee. Four of the House sponsors are on the House Agriculture committee.
Now it gets real interesting. The bill creates two positions on the board: one veterinarian and another for a veterinary wholesaler.
- If the Governor cannot find a suitable veterinarian to fill the veterinarian position on the board, he may appoint a pharmaceutical wholesaler.
- If the Governor can’t find a suitable veterinarian or pharmaceutical wholesaler, the governor may appoint another health care professional.
- If the Governor cannot find a suitable veterinary wholesaler to fill the wholesaler position on the board, he may appoint another veterinarian.
- If there is no veterinarian to fill this position, the Governor may appoint a pharmaceutical wholesaler.
Why have all these contingencies? It turns out that there was considerable concern that there would not be any veterinarians that would be willing to serve on the board for four years to fulfill the role and participate in only 15 minutes of discussion on a veterinary topic in those 4 years.
So who wanted this bill? Veterinary wholesalers. Apparently the board of pharmacy had imposed some fines on veterinary wholesalers for violations of regulation concerning the sale of veterinary products. So what is the proposed legislative remedy?
“The Board shall not regulate the sale of any disposable veterinary device and the board may also exempt from regulation veterinary devices that are regulated by the FDA or for which the board determines regulation is unnecessary.”
What else is in the bill? The wholesalers thought the fines were excessive, so …
“The Board may fine a registrant who distributes a veterinary drug in violation of this article not less than $50, nor more than $500 for each violation”
“In setting a fine, the board shall consider the registrants ability to pay. If the board determines that paying the fine would cause the registrant undue hardship the board shall waive the fine.”
This is how the veterinary wholesalers intend to address their concerns with the state board of pharmacy through the legislative process. If the veterinary wholesalers don’t have any opposition they will all be singing another line of the song – “But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.”
What can we learn from this? Constant involvement in your legislature may find you singing along.