Legislative Updates

Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association Statement on Skunks as Pets


Veterinary Day on the Hill – March 1, 2023

Cordell Hull Building
425 5th Avenue North, Nashville
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

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State Legislative Updates from TVMA’s Lobbying Firm

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Annual Legislative Updates

2015 Legislative Update

A group of interested healthcare providers formed a small coalition to pass Public Chapter 261 to define the terms “telehealth” or “telemedicine” due to some concerns about the interpretations of the Board of Medical Examiners. Knowing that a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship cannot be established though electronic means, we had the word “human” added before “patient” in the definition of “healthcare provider” so there would be no chance to argue that telehealth would be permitted by a veterinarian since these new definitions are applicable to all healthcare providers licensed under T.C.A. Chapter 63. Public Chapter 261 effective July 1, 2015

Rural Prescribers in CSMD
Public Chapter 476 requires the top 10 prescribers, according to the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, from the counties combined with a population of 50,000 or less to submit an explanation to the Department of Health as to why these amounts are medically necessary. Currently the top 50 prescribers of controlled substances from across the state are required to do so but there was concern that perhaps due to population differences that bad actors in rural areas (50,000 and below) were not being caught in the top 50 statewide. After this is effective, a total of 60 prescribers will be asked to send an explanation to the DOH. Effective May 18, 2015.

Commercial Breeder Bill
Senator Ferrell Haile spent much of the fall of 2014 researching and preparing a new “puppy mill bill” that would be in a version he could pass since the previous program had not been extended. Ultimately language could not be agreed upon and the bill failed. It was SB1020/HB1142 which was a caption bill.

Chemical Capture
A bill by Rep. Timothy Hill was almost reintroduced during 2015 that would allow unlicensed people to chemically capture companion animals. Some committee members were able to keep the bill from being filed during this year.

Animal Fighting
The Humane Society of the United States successfully passed legislation to make it a Class A misdemeanor for a person to knowingly cause a person under 18 years of age to attend an animal fight. The bill also increased the second offense of animal fighting to a Class E felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor. This effort has been ongoing for seven years and the goal is to make animal fighting as a first offense a felony charge. Public Chapter 406 effective July 1, 2015.

Knowingly killing a police animal
Presently, it is an offense to knowingly and unlawfully kill the animal of another without the owner’s effective consent. A violation is theft of property, graded according to the value of the animal, and punished accordingly. SB114/HB1291 adds that a violation with respect to a police dog, fire dog, search and rescue dog, or police horse will be a Class E felony, unless the offense would be a higher classification based on the animal’s value, in which case the violation will be graded pursuant to present law. Public Chapter 409 effective May 8, 2015

TN Animal Abuser Registration Act
This bill enacts the Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration Act, which requires the TBI to post to its web site a list of persons convicted of the following criminal offenses against animals:

(1) Aggravated animal cruelty;
(2) Felony animal fighting; and
(3) Bestiality and related offenses;

The list, which is to be publicly accessible beginning January 1, 2016, will include the animal abuser’s full legal name, photograph, and any other identifying data the TBI determines is necessary to identify the abuser and to exclude innocent persons.

Upon a first conviction of an animal abuse offense, a person’s name and identifying information will remain on the list for two years following the conviction, and the TBI will remove the name at the end of the two-year period, unless that person commits another animal abuse offense during that time. If a person is convicted of an animal abuse offense a second or subsequent time, that person’s name will remain on the list for five years, and the TBI will remove it at the end of that time, unless the person commits another animal abuse offense during the five-year period. The TBI will remove a person’s name and identifying information from the registry list if the sole offense for which the person is on the list is expunged. Public Chapter 413 effective May 8, 2015.

Public Chapters

The public chapters are accessible via http://tn.gov/health/article/vet-statutes by number or subject matter.


Tennessee General Assembly – Visit to find your legislators, obtain information on proposed legislation and view schedules of Senate and House Sessions and Committee meetings.

American Veterinary Medical Association Governmental Relations Division – Visit to find updated information on proposed legislation in Congress.