By Dimitri A. Davis
On August 4, 2022, the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) published notice of its intent to amend section 2043 of Article 5.5 of Division 20 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR). The purpose of this proposed change is to allow VMB to perform its duty of protecting the public by removing restrictions in which VMB may issue citations.
According to the Initial Statement of Reasons, current law, Business and Professions Code section 4800.1, mandates that the protection of the public shall be the highest priority of the Board in exercising its licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions. Whenever the protection of the public is inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the protection of the public shall be paramount. The Business and Professions Code section 4808 authorizes the Board to adopt, amend, or repeal such rules and regulations as may be reasonably necessary to enable it to carry into effect the provisions of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act (Practice Act).
Section 2043, Title 16 of the CCR hinders the Board’s ability to fulfill its consumer protection mandate by unnecessarily limiting its citation and fine authority to violations occurring “while engaged in the practice.” Many violations occur outside of actual practice, but the current language forces VMB to either close cases with clear violations and take no action or pursue disciplinary action.
This proposed regulatory language is intended to address that problem by removing this limiting language from existing regulation and thereby enhancing VMB’s enforcement mechanisms and consumer protection by incentivizing compliance for less egregious violations. This regulatory proposal will amend section 2043 to allow the Board to utilize citations and administrative fines in line with their intended purpose: as an enforcement tool to incentivize compliance when violations warrant more than an educational letter but do not rise to the level of formal discipline. This rulemaking would remove the limitation to addressing violations by striking the language “while engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine” from the current regulation which will allow the Board to exercise the broader authority provided in Business and Professions Code section 125.9 to issue citations for any violations of the Practice Act.
VMB anticipates that citation and fine revenues will be about $37,500 per year. VMB anticipates the proposed regulation would not result in costs or savings in federal funding to the state.
The public comment period will end on October 4, 2022. VMB has not scheduled a public hearing on this proposed action. VMB will hold a hearing if it receives a written request for a public hearing from any interested person no later than 15 days prior to the close of the written comment period.