The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee (LAC) convenes to discuss new legislation that impacts animal health and welfare and the veterinary profession. Veterinarians from across the country discuss the issues affecting their clients and patients, and help determine the AVMA’s legislative agenda. The veterinarians I met at the LAC were of diverse backgrounds and practice styles. They were an intense
and enthusiastic group, and were really at their best when they disagreed, championing the issues that mattered most to them.
As part of their visit to DC, LAC members met with their congressional offices to advocate for the veterinary profession. The veterinarians from Michigan and California received some unexpected but hopefully not unwelcome company from Radhika and me.
One message we have been hearing from veterinarians on this externship is that the diagnostic process we use every day is a valuable tool for evaluating policy – we’re problem solvers! That is why it is so important to get involved in the political process, especially on the issues that matter most to you. Here are a few tips for staying involved:
Your complete source for federal legislative information. Congress works in two-year sessions tied to the elections. Each session is actually called a Congress and begins in the January of the year following an election. We are currently in the 114th Congress which began on Jan 6, 2015. On this site you can search for House and Senate bills, follow Floor proceedings, and track committee activities.
Nonpartisan Voter Information
These sites offer information about candidates running for public office.
As scientists, we’re used to relying on peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals for our information. For debate on policy issues, a reputable news site is a great way to hear what candidates and stake-holders are discussing. While much has been said about which sources to trust, as long as you’re reading multiple sources you should be well informed. A feed-reader or Google Alerts is a great way to filter content.
Biased but Useful
Additionally, going straight to the horse’s mouth and looking up a Congressperson’s or Candidate’s website can be very helpful. Obviously they’ll be self-promoting, but they frequently list their positions on a variety of topics and quickly let you know if you’re compatible. Also check out advocacy groups (like the AVMA!) for their take on the issues, following organizations you’re interested in on Facebook or Twitter is a quick way to stay updated.
A personal plea, especially to my classmates, remember that you are a scientist and that is always useful. If you can pass a pharmacology final you can interpret a guidance document, I promise! My profession is my passion and I know it’s yours too! The information is out there, read about what interests you, and get involved!