COLUMBUS – Last week, State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-27th District) announced the unanimous House passage of House Bill 67, legislation that creates the Veterinarian Student Debt Assistance Program for charitable services. The program allows the State Veterinary Medical Licensing Board to agree to repay all or part of any educational loans taken out by a veterinarian while in veterinary college.
“H.B. 67 is fiscally responsible legislation that strengthens partnerships between veterinarians and animal welfare organizations to help curb the issue of pet overpopulation and accomplish community goals,” said Brinkman, who joint-sponsored the measure with State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati).
Under the bill, eligibility requirements are listed for program applicants, which include a requirement that an applicant must perform specified charitable veterinarian services, such as spay and neutering. The board will select applicants for participation in the program through a lottery system.
The funding for the program is from the Occupational Licensing Regulatory Fund. The student debt assistance program uses no state tax dollars, requires no raises in licensure fees, and is entirely funded by excess funds of the licensing board.
Many organizations voiced their support for the H.B. 67, including the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OMVA), Paws and the Law, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Shelter Outreach Services of Ohio, and more.
“House Bill 67 in its entirety reflects an equitable, fiscally responsible and meaningful approach to addressing animal care needs in our communities, can assist with attracting and retaining employment of veterinarians in Ohio, and provides resources towards the challenge of student debt facing the veterinary profession,” said Jack Advent, Executive Director of the OMVA, during his proponent testimony to the House Commerce and Labor Committee.
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.