Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Legislation Briefs June 5, 2013

Dear SAOVA Friends,

The IRS scandal continues to unfold in Washington with Congressional hearings underway and now investigation by the FBI into IRS actions and targeting of certain nonprofits. Discovery that the Director of the IRS division implicated in using the improper targeting, Lois Lerner, is an active member of HSUS raised questions whether she used her position to run interference for HSUS.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) wrote a letter to Lerner the year before asking that HSUS’s political spending be scrutinized. Lerner took no action. In response, Rep. Luetkemeyer wrote another letter to the Treasury Secretary and the Inspector General for Tax Administration renewing his call for an investigation of HSUS.

In his weekly column, Luetkemeyer writes, “Three years ago, a number of constituents brought to my attention their concerns that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was involved in political and lobbying activities that were in direct violation of its 501(c)3 tax-except status that prohibits such activities. To be clear, HSUS is not affiliated with your local animal shelter. In fact, only 1 percent of the money HSUS raises makes its way to animal shelters at all. Instead, it spends millions of dollars on lobbying, ballot initiatives, and other political activities.  For three years, and after providing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with more than 3,000 pages of documents exposing HSUS’ activities and calling for an investigation, the agency told me they could not discuss ongoing investigations and were also unable to confirm or deny whether or not an investigation was underway.”

Luetkemeyer continues, “This is the worst kind of government abuse that I have ever encountered in my more than two decades in public service and I am determined to get to the bottom of things on behalf of those folks who came to me three years ago with these allegations.”

Please write to your own Congressman and ask why the IRS has ignored the repeated requests of Congressman Luetkemeyer to act upon the allegations that the HSUS was involved in political and lobbying activities that were in direct violation of its 501(c)3 tax-except status that prohibits such activities. A thorough investigation is needed to resolve this issue and to restore the faith and trust in our government.

The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.  Thanks for reading.

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

CALS announced as part of its summer 2013 program a two credit course, Animal Law: Policy Influences through Legislation, Lobbying, Litigation taught by Nancy Perry, National Center for Animal Law Board Member.  Perry is also the VP of Government Affairs at HSUS. She oversees federal and state legislative campaigns, litigation, regulatory affairs, and grassroots activities. Previously, as the grassroots coordinator, she spearheaded state animal protection ballot initiatives and coordinated litigation strategies.   The class will be held at the ASPCA offices in Washington DC.   The course will survey the legislative and regulatory process for contemporary issues, and the role of lobbying and litigation as tactics to protect animals at the local, state, and national level. The course will address a wide variety of topics: legislative drafting; lobbying strategies; federal, state and local legislative approaches; application and enforcement of federal statutes such as the Animal Welfare Act, the Humane Slaughter Act, the Horse Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Wild Horses and Burros Act;  state laws and citizen initiatives concerning anti-cruelty, hunting, trapping, animal fighting, performing animals, and farm animals; consumer protection actions. The goal of this course is to expose students to the daily forums, procedures and unique challenges for animal law practitioners in the nation’s capital, to reinforce critical concepts for informed advocacy and give students hands on experience to prepare them to engage in the political, legislative and litigation work for animals.

May, 2013.  Former US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) took top honors from HSUS/HSLF as the 2012 Humane Legislator of the Year.  Brown was honored for:

  • Co-leading efforts to remove a polar bear trophy import provision from the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 which would have allowed importation of polar bear trophies taken in Canadian sport hunts before the polar bear was listed on the Endangered Species Act;
  • Original cosponsorship of the Egg Products Inspection Act to set federal government regulated standards for housing and raising egg-laying hens;
  • Cosponsorship of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption;
  • Cosponsoring the PUPS Act, S. 707, to license and federally regulate retail sellers of dogs;
  • And for sending a letter to USDA urging the agency to expedite its Proposed Retail Pet Sellers Rule.

In February Fox News Channel hired Brown as a contributor, stating that Brown’s dedication to out-of-the box thinking on key issues made him an important voice in the country.

Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment would require ballot issue groups to collect at least 75% of the valid signatures required in order to receive additional time to gather extra signatures once the petition has been turned in to the Secretary of State.

Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum would overturn Public Act 520, a law that allows the state to establish wolf hunting seasons in the Upper Peninsula.  On May 8 Governor Rick Snyder signed into law SB 288 which gives the Natural Resource Commission the authority to declare game animals and establish seasons without the need for action by the legislature. The law essentially renders the 2014 ballot referendum meaningless.

Missouri Right-to-Farm Amendment would add a section to the state constitution that explicitly guarantees farmers and ranchers the right to engage in their livelihoods and produce food for others.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some owners of exotic animals say a new Ohio law is onerous and infringes on their constitutional rights, and they've asked a federal appeals court to strike it down. Under the new law, owners who want to keep their animals must obtain new state-issued permits by Jan. 1, 2014. They must pass background checks, pay fees, obtain liability insurance or surety bonds and show inspectors they can properly contain the animals and care for them. The law exempts sanctuaries, research institutions and facilities accredited by the two national zoo groups. Attorney Robert Owens says in the brief filed with the 6th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that the only way for his clients to qualify for an exemption under the law is for them to join either the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Zoological Association of America — groups he says are at odds with his clients.

State Rep. Jason Smith (R) easily won Missouri’s heavily conservative 8th district special election yesterday.  Smith, the state House speaker pro tem replaces Jo Ann Emerson who resigned earlier this year to work in the private sector.  Smith, age 32, will become one of the youngest members of Congress.  In 2009 Smith received a Legislative Leader Award from SAOVA.

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