AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation authorizing four years of oversight for the agency tasked with regulating the state’s animal doctors.

Lawmakers passed the bill in the final hours of the 88th legislative session, to attach the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) to another state agency temporarily, in order to help with data collection and management issues. The legislation stipulates that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) will take over policymaking and administrative decisions for TBVME.

The Board has faced issues over the last six years obtaining and maintaining a database to keep regulatory and disciplinary information about its licensees — issues which have been documented by the Sunset Advisory Commission in several reviews and reports. KXAN investigators have been following those calls for reform, after discovering some disciplinary documents still missing from the public licensee look-up website in 2022.

The legislation — signed into law on Sunday and taking effect on Sept. 1 — allows TBVME to retain its rulemaking powers on matters related to “scope of practice” or “health-related standard of care” for veterinary medicine.

Amid KXAN’s 2022 investigation, new leadership took over at TBVME — including Executive Director Brittany Sharkey. In a statement to KXAN, she said the legislation marked a “great new chapter” for the agency.

“This first of it’s kind temporary attachment will allow us to leverage TDLR’s knowledge, expertise and resources to help TBVME become the best small agency in the state and provide better protection of the public,” she said. “I am so proud of the work the staff has done here in the last nine months since I was appointed and I’m excited to see where this new partnership takes us. We still have a lot of work to do to earn back the trust of the public and legislature and I believe this partnership is a great step towards achieving that. ”