Thursday, April 28, 2011

Six members of Congress join the call for IRS action investigating HSUS

From Lobbyist, Frank Losey:

A “Congressional Cavalry” of Six Members of Congress has now formally asked the Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury (IG) to “re-evaluate the tax-exempt status of the HSUS under the applicable legal standard” and to “investigate IRS’s potential failure to conduct a proper investigation.” These requests were included in the signed Joint Letter that was dated April 18, 2011.

The Six Members of Congress who signed the Joint Letter included Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler and Jo Ann Emerson from Missouri, Congressmen Blaine Luetkemeyer, Sam Graves and Billy Long from Missouri, and Congressman Don Young from Alaska. Significantly, Congressman Young issued a Press Release dated March 30, 2011 in which he refused to accept an Award from the HSUS, and went on to say: “HSUS are hypocrites, plain and simple, and I will not join them by accepting this award.”

In addition to attaching to the Joint Letter illustrative examples of documentation that showed the magnitude of the excessive lobbying by the HSUS, the Joint Letter also contained the two following, riveting quotes: “We believe that HSUS’s own public documents show beyond question that lobbying is a ‘substantial part’ of its activities, and feel that IRS’s failure to act is attributable to the politically sensitive nature of HSUS’s activities. Due to this, we write to request investigations by the Inspector General into HSUS’s apparent improper activities and its tax exempt status.” . . . “If the HSUS is not complying with the law, it should be investigated and disciplined just like any other organization, as taxpayers would be effectively subsidizing a political organization.” Not only is this letter “HUGE,” but it could “breed” supplemental letters being sent to the Treasury’s IG from other Members of Congress. The pressure on the IRS to investigate the HSUS has never been greater!!

When the Treasury’s IG is briefed by his Senior Staff about the April 18th Congressional Joint Letter - - SUCH BRIEFINGS OCCUR WHEN A JOINT CONGRESSIONAL LETTER IS RECEIVED - - and learns that several thousand concerned citizens have also contacted the OIG Hotline Office by email or Phone, the room temperature will rise in the Treasury’s IG Office!! And this BRIEFING is an additional reason for another wave of emails and Phone Calls to the OIG HOTLINE OFFICE to occur within the NEXT 30 DAYS. Even if you have already sent an email or Called, do it again. And encourage those who have not done so to email or Call. NUMBERS DO MATTER, especially when such a high level Senior Official in the Treasury Department begins asking hard questions and is briefed on the fact that the HSUS may have under-reported its revenue by over $500 Million; that over 6,000 tax-payers from all 50 States asked the IRS to investigate the HSUS; that a new wave of emails and Calls is being received by the OIG HOTLINE OFFICE; that the HSUS claims credit for the passage of over 550 Federal and State Statutes; and that the IRS assigned a Tax Fraud Case File Number (29-92012) to the HSUS in November 2008 -- 29 months ago!

EMAIL ADDRESS for OIG: (Subject: OIG Case File 55-1005-0025-C); OIG HOTLINE PHONE: 1-800-366-4484 (Press 5)

Suggested Short Message: “Would you please do what Six Members of Congress asked the Inspector General to do in their Joint Letter dated April 18th.”

Each Email or Call will make a difference!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Governor names Rep. Heller to fill out Ensign’s term

By Sean Lengell - The Washington Times

Rep. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, is jumping to the Senate, as Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday named him to replace the retiring Sen. John Ensign, a move that had been widely anticipated.

The appointment is expected to help the GOP hang on to the Senate seat by giving Mr. Heller a leg up on any Democratic challengers next year.

Mr. Heller announced his candidacy last month for Mr. Ensign’s seat after the two-term Republican senator said he wasn’t running for re-election in 2012.

But when Mr. Ensign announced last week that he would step down, effective next Tuesday, because of an ongoing ethics investigation, Mr. Sandoval was tasked with picking a replacement to serve the senator’s remaining 20 months in office.

The governor said he chose Mr. Heller, a House member since 2007, because “the people of Nevada deserve a new senator who can begin work immediately.”

“Too many important issues face our state and our nation to name a caretaker to this important position,” Mr. Sandoval said. “Nevada needs an experienced voice in Washington.”

Full story at link

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act

Support S. 838 and H.R. 1558 - Help stop unreasonable bans on fishing tackle

Policy Alert from the American Sportfishing Association.

On April 14, the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act (S. 838 and H.R. 1558), was introduced by the chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus - Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and John Thune (R-SD) and Representatives Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Mike Ross (D-AR). The Act will prevent a federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle and help to ensure that any future regulations on fishing tackle are established based on scientific data instead of unjustified petitions.

Due in large part to industry and angler response, last November the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition to ban lead fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Despite the EPA's ruling, this issue is not yet fully resolved. The groups who filed the petition are now turning to a lawsuit to force the EPA to ban lead fishing tackle and ammunition.

ASA is asking our members to rally behind legislation to ensure further bans are not possible. Please, contact your Members of Congress today urging them to co-sponsor S. 838 and H.R. 1558, the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act.

Sample message and legislative action center can be accessed at the American Sportfishing Association website

$20 Million reasons to fix Prop B

By Representative Jay Barnes
The Missouri Record. April 22, 2011 10:30 AM

Barrels of ink have been spilt on the legislature’s efforts to fix problems with Prop B relating to the dog-breeding industry in Missouri. But little has been said about the unadvertised costs of the bill.

When Missourians took to the polls in November 2010, they were told by former State Auditor Susan Montee that the measure would only cost $650,000. Unfortunately, if not fixed, the true cost could be more than 30 times as expensive. The reason is the Fifth Amendment.

Under our federal Constitution, the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause provides a check on the actions of local, state, and the federal government to take private property without just compensation to the owner of that property. When people think of the Takings Clause, the usually think about eminent domain – where government takes someone’s home to build a new road – or, in some awful situations, to grow government revenue. But there’s also a strain of takings known as regulatory takings.

A regulatory taking occurs when a new government law or regulation prevents economically viable use of property or if its effect on a property owner’s ability to productive use is sufficiently severe.

When an alleged taking destroys most but not all viability, courts examine the claimed taking under a three-part test. A court must determine: (1) the economic impact of the regulation; (2) the interference with investment-backed expectations of the property owner; and (3) the character of the governmental action.

Prop B tells dog breeders around our state, the vast majority of which treat their animals with the utmost respect, that they can no long own more than 50 dogs – regardless of how well they treat their animals.

If challenged in court, Prop B could very well fail all three parts of the test. The economic impact of the regulation is to put many breeders out of business. The interference with investment-backed expectations is high because Missouri breeders invested in their facilities with the reasonable expectation that they’d be able to continue operating if they treated their dogs well. Finally, the character of the government action is arbitrary and capricious because it does not include any consideration of a breeder’s actual practices. The vast majority of dog breeders who treat their animals well are treated the same as abusive rogues regardless of their actual business practices.

If a court found that Prop B was a regulatory taking, the next question is how much it would cost the state. The industry has estimated that Prop B would destroy the value of 20,000 dogs in the state in facilities with more than 50 dogs. With an average value of $1,000 per dog, the easy math reveals that Prop B could cost Missouri taxpayers $20 million in lawsuits in its first year.

Would this knowledge have swayed enough Missourians to change the outcome of Prop B in November 2010? I believe it would have. The state of Missouri does not have $20 million lying around to pay the bill. Regardless of the merits of other parts of the legislation or the “Missouri Deal” that has been reached, the fiscally responsible thing for Gov. Nixon to do is to sign the fix passed last week in the Missouri legislature.

TX: Bill targets 'puppy mills'

Rep. Thomson (D-Houston) continues to support her breeder-crushing bill with the big lie that hobby breeders would be excluded from regulation. "Show dogs, wildlife, herding dogs — it doesn't affect them at all," she said.

Yet under a recently amended section HB 1451 presumes all owned intact females are being bred. Owners of 11 intact females are "guilty until proven innocent" and must prove to the satisfaction of inspectors no breeding has taken place. Under HB 1451 the penalty for breeding even ONE at any time is qualification as a commercial breeder, licensing, regulation, and home inspections.

HB 1451 will pull conscientious hobby breeders and hunting dog owners into the definition of commercial breeder and subject them to the onerous provisions of this legislation even though they are not businesses in the true sense.

Legislation would set limits and require checks

AUSTIN — So-called puppy mills and other dog and cat breeding operations would become regulated by the state, required to undergo annual inspections and criminal background checks under a bill that could come before the full House next week.

Rep. Senfronia Thomson's House Bill 1451 would classify dog and cat breeders who have 11 or more unspayed female animals as commercial breeders and require that they be licensed by the state. In addition to background checks and annual inspections, operators would be required to provide wholesome food and clean water, proper lighting and ventilation for animals confined indoors and adequate sanitation.

Supporters said current laws address only extreme cases and make it difficult for animal welfare workers to investigate puppy mills, especially if the operators bar them from their property.

Breeders criticize
Thompson's bill enjoys the support the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but breeders say it would go too far. At a committee hearing last month, dozens of witnesses, many of them breeders, testified that the measure would put them out of business while doing nothing to shut down inhumane operations.

Other breeders criticized the 11-female limit, and some argued that the annual examination and record-keeping requirements would be too expensive.

Hobby breeders would be excluded from regulation.

Thompson, D-Houston, said Thursday that she has continued to work with opponents of the bill during the past couple of months and believes she has addressed their concerns.

"Show dogs, wildlife, herding dogs — it doesn't affect them at all," she said. "If you have 11 intact females, and you're breeding them all at the same time, then you need to be licensed by the state. It's like when somebody cuts hair for free. We don't bother them. But when they start charging for their services, we need to make sure for the sake of public health that they know what they're doing."

Gib Lewis, the former House speaker who testified against the bill on behalf of the Responsible Pet Owners Association, the Texas Wildlife Association and himself, labeled the bill "extremely bad policy." He said Thursday he was opposed to it in part because PETA and other animal rights groups were pushing similar bills in state legislatures across the country.

Disagreements over cost
Lewis insisted the bill will cost taxpayers money.

"License fees won't cover what they want done," he said. "Anybody raising hunting dogs, show dogs, even cats, it will put them out of business."

Thompson's bill was sailing through the House on Thursday until state Rep. David Simpson, a freshman Republican from Longview, objected to it being a part of the local and consent calendar, which Thompson chairs. He also objected to the substance of the measure.

"Look, I'm all for enforcing animal cruelty laws," he said. "But these licensing and regulation requirements affects the law-abiding when what we need to do is punish the wrongdoers."

He also disagreed with Thompson's contention that the bill would have no financial implications for the state.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Farmers rally for, as HSUS protests, dog bill

April 21, 2011 by Tom Steever

Organizers say over 1,000 people gathered Wednesday on the Missouri Capitol lawn to show support for legislation making changes to the controversial Puppy Mill Cruelty Bill passed by voters last fall.

Flanked by Missouri House and Senate members favoring the changes, several spoke supporting Senate Bill 113 that’s been passed but is awaiting Governor Jay Nixon’s signature. Clarence, Missouri, pork producer Chris Chinn told the crowd she’s concerned that the Humane Society of United States, which supports and financed the ballot initiative, will not stop with limiting the number of dogs allowed in a breeding operation.

“They’re going to take our farms from us and they’re going to take our jobs and they are going to steal my children’s future,” said Chinn Wednesday, from the podium on the Capitol steps.

Rally organizer Don Nikodim, head of the Missouri Pork Producers Association and with the Missouri Farmers Care coalition says the turnout will help decision makers still on the fence about compromise legislation.
Full story at Brownfield Ag

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oregon Cougar bill passes House

By Hasso Hering, Albany Democrat-Herald

April 20, 2011. The Oregon House Wednesday passed, 45-14, a bill allowing some hunting of cougars with hounds. The bill, HB 2337, now goes to the Senate.

The bill would direct the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to start a pilot program of hunting cougars with dogs in selected management areas. Counties could petition to become part of the pilot program, and Linn County likely would do so.

Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, who carried the bill on the floor, said it was intended to reduce the number of cougar conflicts in areas where the cats have killed livestock and were killing an unusual number of elk and deer calves.

Speaking on the floor, Sprenger cited the case of a mother and son near Brownsville who last year lost six sheep to confirmed cougar kills. That has an economic impact, she said.

Sprenger said that according to ODFW, the number of cougars had risen from about 3,000 in 1994, when voters banned hunting them with dogs, to an estimated 6,000 now.

The increase has come even though the cougar hunting season now is year-round and hunters who get one can turn around and get another tag.

The only legislator speaking against the bill was Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland. He questioned the validity of research done by the wildlife department, citing one reviewer who said there was no scientific basis for the conclusions in the department’s cougar management plan.

Sprenger said there are no practical nonlethal methods for reducing conflicts between cougars and livestock.

Cougars can’t be fenced out, and no barn is big enough to hold all the sheep on a ranch every night, as she said someone had suggested at a town hall meeting she held last summer.

The bill needed at least 40 votes to advance, though Democratic Rep. Brian Clem of Salem, one of its supporters, said the requirement was absurd.

According to lawyers for the legislature, by removing the crime of cougar hunting with dogs in some cases, the bill comes under the requirements of Measure 11, which set minimum prison sentences, and therefore it needed a two-thirds majority.

Clem said cougars were a hot topic in rural Oregon, though not perhaps in Portland, and passing the bill would help “heal the urban-rural divide.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New HumaneWatch Billboard Hits Times Square

HumaneWatch does it again - great billboard. Click on the link for a view.

Washington, DC – Today, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), unveiled a new billboard in New York’s Times Square criticizing the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for its deceptive fundraising practices. Despite most Americans’ belief to the contrary, HSUS is not a national umbrella group that represents community-based humane societies, and it shares less than one percent of its income with underfunded pet shelters at the local level.

The billboard is located at Seventh Avenue, between 48th and 49th Streets. Its unveiling coincides with HSUS President Wayne Pacelle’s scheduled April 21 New York City appearance to promote his new book, The Bond. The HumaneWatch ad features a young boy shocked to hear from the family pet that HSUS gives less than one percent of its money to hands-on pet shelters.

“HSUS is an animal rights group that uses heart-wrenching images of dogs and cats to guilt the American public into donating. But it’s sharing less than one percent of the proceeds with the hands-on shelters that actually care for these animals,” said Rick Berman, CCF’s Executive Director. “HSUS’s millions support a huge staff of lawyers and lobbyists, bloated executive pension plans, exorbitant fundraising expenses, and bankroll an animal rights agenda that attacks modern farming.”

HSUS raised $97 million in 2009, mostly from Americans who thought their donations would filter down to local pet shelters. According to Opinion Research Corporation polling, 59 percent of Americans falsely believe HSUS “contributes most of its money to local organizations that care for dogs and cats.”

“The Humane Society of the United States is a humane society in name only,” continued Berman. “Americans can really make a difference to animals in their communities by donating and volunteering at their local shelters.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit watchdog organization that informs the public about the activities of tax-exempt activist groups. It is supported by American consumers, business organizations, and foundations.

Visit HumaneWatch to learn more

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

U.S. proposes removing protection for wolves in Wisconsin

Fish and Wildlife Service says population has recovered in state
By Paul A. Smith and Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel

April 16, 2011. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Friday to remove federal protections for the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The agency also said new studies show wolves in the Midwest are distinct from wolves in the eastern United States and eastern Canada.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said wolf populations in the Midwest had met recovery goals and no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Delisting would allow Wisconsin to enact a state-approved management plan for wolves, which would allow for the killing of wolves that have been shown to kill or harass livestock and pets.

Wolves have increasingly become a point of controversy, with some landowners in the north saying that higher populations have harmed livestock and pets.

The state Department of Natural Resources and many conservation organizations, including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, support the delisting, while some wildlife groups oppose dropping the protections.

The proposal allows for 60 days of public comment.

This is the third time that steps have been taken to allow Wisconsin to reduce protections for the wolf. Since 2007, the wolf has been declassified from its endangered status for a total of 21 months.

But animal rights groups have protested the actions, and twice have persuaded federal courts to return protections.

This time, the Fish and Wildlife Service said that recent genetic studies show that the gray wolf, Canis lupus, is genetically distinct from eastern wolves, Canis lycaon.

Wildlife groups had been wary about lifting protections on the gray wolf, fearing it would harm their potential revival in the eastern U.S.

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Ariz., said the government's announcement was premature.

"Gray wolves remain absent from 95 percent of their former range, and yet the service is eager to declare them recovered," Collette Adkins Giese, an attorney for the organization, said in a statement.

"Instead of pandering to the minority who want to kill wolves, the service should use its legal authority to chart a new course that focuses on national wolf recovery, including recovery for the newly recognized eastern wolf."

The western Great Lakes' wolf population is estimated at more than 4,000 animals, including 2,922 in Minnesota, 557 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 690 in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin has monitored the state's wolf population for 30 years. The state's population is now well above the 1999 management goal of 350.

In statements, Gov. Scott Walker and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp applauded the proposal.

Walker said it would help "untie our hands so we can start rebuilding public confidence in the state and federal efforts toward wolf conservation and wildlife management."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

MO House approves revisions to controversial Proposition B

By DOUG WILSON Herald-Whig Senior Writer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Legislation regulating dog breeders was approved in the Missouri House Wednesday afternoon, revising many of the provisions from Proposition B.

"It strengthens the law," said Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Canton.

Rep. Tom Shively, D-Clarence, said the legislation is a big improvement over Prop B, which passed in November. He said Prop B would have put many of Missouri's dog breeders out of business, but was so poorly written it would have done nothing to boost inspections.

"This requires more supervision by veterinarians (and inspectors), which to me ought to be the final authority on whether you're running the operation right," Shively said.

The legislation now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has not said whether he will sign it into law.

Officials from the Humane Society of the United States did not immediately comment on Wednesday's 85-71 vote, but have opposed any changes in the initiative petition the group supported.

"Whether you care about protecting dogs from abuse, or care about the democratic decision-making process, this assault on the will of the people must be stopped," HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a release last month.

Senate Bill 113 would provide more money for inspectors who monitor breeding operations -- potentially hiring five new inspectors to join the Missouri Department of Agriculture's staff of 12. It would require at least two visits per year from veterinarians. Supporters say those things will make breeders more accountable.

It would remove the 50-dog limit that was supposed to take effect later this year. It also would eliminate some of the changes in criminal law that could have made violators subject to Class A misdemeanor charges and up to a year in jail.

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, has gotten calls from people who were angry he supported revisions to Prop B. He sent them copies of SB 113 and asked them to read it and call back if they still had concerns.

"I haven't had anybody call me back yet once they saw what the law does. I think it really does the things people thought they were voting on in Prop B," Munzlinger said.

License fees for dog breeders could cost as much as $2,500 under the new law, up from a cap of $500. In addition, a $25 fee per facility will fund Operation Bark Alert.

HSUS was instrumental in financing advertisements supporting Prop B and the initiative petition passed by a narrow margin last November with support in the state's largest urban areas and opposition from the rest of the state.

Barbara Schmitz, Missouri director for HSUS, said the added inspection and enforcement is a good thing, but she opposes SB 113 for rolling back "clear and basic standards" that could prevent dogs from being abused.

Many lawmakers had opposed Prop B because they considered it vague in requiring "adequate water and food," whereas state and federal law laid out specific language that could be used in court.

Munzlinger said a coalition supported by HSUS filed another initiative petition Tuesday that would require a three-quarters majority of Missouri lawmakers to revise any initiative petitions.

"I don't think the HSUS is done here in the state of Missouri. I don't know if they want to come back after agriculture or hunting. They're against both those things," Munzlinger said.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ohio livestock board changes rule on veal crates

Capital Press April 5, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An animal rights group says it's pleased that Ohio's livestock care board has reversed an earlier vote on the size of cages for veal calves.

The Humane Society of the United States had been threatening to revive a ballot issue against animal cruelty after the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted to allow veal calves to be kept in crates too small for them to turn around.

The board reversed its course on Tuesday and decided to allow the larger crates. The rule still faces one more vote and a hearing before it can take effect.

The Humane Society complained that the earlier vote jeopardized an agreement reached with former Gov. Ted Strickland last year that led them to give up a ballot campaign.

Related article:
Brownfield Ag News. Care Board reverses decision on veal crates

Friday, April 1, 2011

Alaska Congress Young refuses HSUS award

KUDOS to Congressman Young. We look forward to the day when the entire Congress "gets it".

The State Column | Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alaskan Congressman Don Young refused an award this evening from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Humane Society Legislative Fund that would have honored his work for animals in 2010. While capitalizing on the good work of local humane societies that shelter, spay, and neuter animals, the HSUS does not own, operate, or directly control a single animal shelter in our country, despite a budget of well over $100 million.

HSUS are hypocrites, plain and simple, and I will not join them by accepting this award,” said Rep. Young. “Local animal shelters and humane societies do excellent work by caring for neglected and homeless animals, and through their spaying and neutering programs. This organization, however, has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare. Instead they prey on the emotions of big-hearted Americans. They flash images of abused animals on our television screens to raise money that will eventually go to pay their salaries and pensions, not to helping better the lives of these animals.”

“They run anti-hunting and anti-trapping campaigns and are of the same cloth as PETA and other extremist organizations. I can only guess that I was to receive this award due to my support of the Wildlife Without Borders program, which develops wildlife management and conservation efforts to maintain global species diversity. That program is true conservation; what this group wants is preservation. To accept this award would be supporting their manipulative ways and misguided agenda, and I want no part of that.”