Connecticut Seal

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House of Representatives

File No. 807

General Assembly

 

January Session, 2017

(Reprint of File No. 483)

Substitute House Bill No. 6347

 

As Amended by House Amendment

Schedule "A"

Approved by the Legislative Commissioner

May 30, 2017

AN ACT CONCERNING PET OWNER ACCESS TO STATE AGENCY RECORDS OF INVESTIGATION FOR COMPLAINTS OF WRONGDOING BY VETERINARIANS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsections (a) and (b) of section 20-204a of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2017):

(a) The department shall investigate each allegation of any act or omission by a veterinarian specified in section 20-202. The investigation shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of section 19a-14 to determine if probable cause exists to issue a statement of charges and to institute proceedings against the veterinarian. Such investigation shall be concluded not later than twelve months from the date the allegation is submitted to the department.

(b) Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the investigation shall be confidential and not subject to disclosure under section 1-210 and no person may disclose knowledge of the investigation to a third party unless the veterinarian requests that the investigation be open. The owner of any animal that is the subject of such an investigation shall not be deemed a third party to such an investigation for purposes of disclosure under this section.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2017

20-204a(a) and (b)

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

This bill, which allows certain pet owners/custodians to have access to specified Department of Public Health records, does not result in a fiscal impact to the state or municipalities.

House “A” made clarifying changes to the underlying bill that are not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact to the state or municipalities

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6347 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING PET OWNER ACCESS TO STATE AGENCY RECORDS OF INVESTIGATION FOR COMPLAINTS OF WRONGDOING BY VETERINARIANS.

SUMMARY

This bill allows certain pet owners to have access to Department of Public Health (DPH) records of an investigation against a veterinarian. Under current law, with limited exceptions, DPH's veterinarian investigations are confidential, exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, and may not be disclosed to a third party (see BACKGROUND).

The bill specifies that the owner of an animal that is the subject of a DPH investigation against a veterinarian is not a third party for purposes of disclosure. Therefore, the owner may receive information about the investigation.

*House Amendment “A” limits access to DPH's veterinarian investigation records to pet owners instead of pet owners and those responsible for the animal's custody and control.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

DPH Investigations of Veterinarians

State law requires DPH to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by veterinarians to determine if probable cause exists to issue charges and take disciplinary action against them (CGS 20-204a). An investigation must be conducted within 12 months after DPH receives an allegation.

If DPH makes a finding of no probable cause or fails to make a finding within the 12-month period, the allegation, investigation, and related records remain confidential and no one may disclose knowledge of the investigation to a third party unless the veterinarian requests that it be disclosed.

If DPH finds there is probable cause to take disciplinary action, the allegation, investigation, and related records become a public record, disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act.

Allegations of Wrongdoing

By law, allegations against a veterinarian may include things such as fraudulent use of health certificates, incompetence, cruel or negligent treatment of animals, failure to keep veterinary premises and equipment clean and sanitary, and failure to comply with continuing education requirements (CGS 20-202).

Disciplinary Action Allowed

By law, disciplinary action may include revocation or suspension of the veterinarian's license, a reprimand, probation, or civil fine of up to $25,000 (CGS 19a-17).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

30

Nay

0

(03/22/2017)

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

15

Nay

6

(04/20/2017)

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