NH LEGISLATIVE “ACTION NEEDED” UPDATE
The current versions of the House’s and Senate’s budget balancing bills (SB 450 and HB1128) contain provisions to eliminate the position of Animal Population Control Assistant and require the Commissioner of Agriculture to put administration of the program out to bid for a contract not to exceed $20,000 a year, and allow the department to charge the program no more than $5,000 a year for administrative oversight. Currently, a full-time employee of the NH Dept. of Agriculture administers all aspects of the program.
- The NH Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to this change in the program. Over 100 veterinarians participate in the program. They have indicated that many of the participating veterinarians will not participate in the program if it is handled by an independent contractor due to the potential for compromising privacy and the costs of adapting to a new paperwork process.
- A major concern is the lack of effective financial and confidential information controls if using an independent contractor. Veterinarians provide proprietary information about their fees to participate in the program and individuals provide their social security number and financial information to qualify for the program.
- NH’s animal control population (spay/neuter) program was instituted in July, 1995. It is has been the model for other states and is considered “the gold standard” of programs. It is extremely successful, highly respected and trusted. Placing the program with an independent contractor, even if it was a large humane society, would disrupt the program’s administration, be more costly and undermine the credibility of the program.
- Currently, Vermont uses a contractor to administer their animal population control program. They have had issues and problems with security and confidentiality of personal information. Vermont indicates that there will be more complaints and questions for the NH Department of Agriculture to handle if a contractor is used. Furthermore, Vermont has had only one applicant who has come close to meeting the contract qualifications—at a cost more than double the proposed amendment’s maximum of $20,000 annually. NH’s program is 50% larger than Vermont’s. Vermont indicates that there will be more complaints and questions for the NH Department of Agriculture to handle if a contractor is used.
- The NH Animal Population Control Program is funded by dog licensing fees. Every year since its inception, the funds have been expended. Using an independent contractor resulted in Vermont having to raise more funds to administer the program that didn’t go to spaying/neutering cats and dogs.
STATUS: During the upcoming week, a conference committee of Senators and Representatives will try to come to agreement on what to take out or keep in the budget. We need to contact them to make sure that this provision is not in the final 2010 budget bill.
Several members of the House Finance Committee now recognize the folly of this provision. Our Senators need to be better informed about how this provision would undermine this valuable and successful program.
Please send a note to the members of the Senate listed below and ask them to work with the Senate conference committee members to remove these provisions from the 2010 budget bill. In your note mention two or three of the reasons listed above.
Harold Janeway, 225 Tyler Road, Webster, NH 03303-7733, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen Sgambati, 25 Pine Street, Tilton, NH 03276-5535, email@example.com
John Gallus, 292 Prospect Street, Berlin, NH 03570-2137, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Odell, PO Box 23, Lempster, NH 03605-0023, email@example.com
Jacalyn L. Cilley, 2 Oak Hill Road, Barrington, NH 03825-3820, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheila Roberge, 83 Olde Lantern Road, Bedford, NH 03110-4816, email@example.com
Amanda Merrill, 8 Meadow Road, Durham, NH 03824-3006, Amanda.Merrill@leg.state.nh.us