Saturday, March 15, 2014

Legislation and Ballot Initiative Updates March 14, 2014

SAOVA Friends,

APHIS held the first of what will be many sessions focused on implementing animal care provisions included in the recently passed Farm Bill.  The teleconference call was very short providing only a general overview and no time frames were addressed.  Dr. Chester Gipson noted that the 2014 Farm Bill gave APHIS broad de minimis authority, allowing them to exempt certain low risk dealers and exhibitors from the Animal Welfare Act license requirement.  The de minimis standard was part of a revision to the AWA definition of “dealer”.  The Farm Bill does not specify exactly who will be exempted, but the Farm Bill managers did indicate that APHIS should not exempt any entity just because it is a nonprofit, nor should they exempt facilities with a small number of dangerous animals.  Director Kevin Shea noted APHIS may publish additional proposed rules.  In reference to the Farm Bill managers asking for clarification of the definition of breeding female, Tracy Letterman with HSUS commented that no further clarifications to the APHIS retail pet store were needed or should be made.  Technical difficulties prevented other attendees from asking questions or making comments.  A transcription of the teleconference is posted on the SAOVA website

Additional bills, updates, and votes when available, are tracked at the SAOVA website  Cross posting is encouraged.

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

JFK University in Pleasant Hill, CA, was recently added to the list of law schools to offer courses in animal law.  This follows the launch of a Student ALDF chapter last year, the 189th in the country.  The animal law course will be taught by Joyce Tischler, the founder of ALDF.

ALDF filed a lawsuit this week against the city of Stockton, California and its animal shelter alleging ongoing abuse and violation of the California Public Records Act, which requires full disclosure of public records.  Along with individual California taxpayers, ALDF—represented by the law firm DLA Piper—is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed in California Superior Court in San Joaquin County.

ALDF and PETA filed a joint lawsuit against the Great Bull Run and the Lone Star Rodeo claiming these events violate California’s anti-cruelty law and Unfair Competition Law. The lawsuit aims to stop the Great Bull Run events currently scheduled in Northern and Southern California this summer.

The National Institutes of Health and the USDA have dismissed an animal rights activist’s latest complaints about the treatment of some primates at the University of Louisiana New Iberia Research Center. In January, Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now called for a federal investigation of injuries to three African green monkeys and the deaths of two chimpanzees in 2012, and a baby rhesus monkey in 2013. A statement by the National Institutes of Health, released March 6, said the events Budkie cited are not current. “These events have been managed by the institutions as required by the PHS (Public Health Service) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, reviewed by the OLAW (NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare), and the cases are closed.”  A current inspection by USDA, prompted by the allegations, found Budkie’s claims had no merit.

HB 0373 Animal Abuser Registry. Sponsor Delegate McConkey (R, 33A) would require the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) to establish and maintain a central and computerized registry.  The fiscal note estimated General fund expenditures for DPSCS would increase by $310,700 in FY 2015.  The Judiciary Committee submitted an Unfavorable Report after the hearing February 20.

Proponents of a ballot initiative that would ask Mainers to support a ban on using bait, dogs and traps to hunt bears say they have gathered more than enough signatures to force the issue to a statewide referendum vote in November. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap confirmed this week that Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting submitted 78,528 petition signatures to his office by Monday’s deadline. The ballot initiative is sponsored by HSUS and aided by local activist groups, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, Maine Friends of Animals and others.  HSUS has already announced it is willing to spend up to $3 million on this initiative. Bear management must be left to state experts and not activists.  Stay informed at Save Maine’s Bear Hunt

HSUS and their front group, Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, submitted signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State on March 13, 2014 to have their anti-wolf hunting measure placed on the November ballot. This is the second ballot initiative collected.  The first referendum suspended Public Act 520 (PA520) signed by Governor Rick Snyder in 2012 which established wolf hunting seasons in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The new referendum seeks to overturn Public Act 21 of 2013 which supersedes PA520, establishes hunting seasons, and includes wolves as a game species.  It is estimated that 225,000 signatures were collected for the second referendum - 63,695 more signatures than required to have it placed on the ballot.

In answer to the HSUS tactics, The Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management proposed their own initiative; they must collect over 300,000 signatures by May in order to place it before the legislature. Among other measures, this would maintain the Natural Resources Commission's authority to designate game species using sound science once enacted into law. A citizen initiative law would not be subject to future HSUS ballot initiative challenges.

Dennis Daugaard signed SB46 making the state the 50th to set felony penalties for malicious acts of animal cruelty. Animal neglect and mistreatment is still a misdemeanor offense; however intentional cruelty is now a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of $4,000. The bill exempts accepted livestock farming practices. The bill was the result of a joint effort between the state veterinarian, livestock groups, and other stakeholders.

SB 2468 introduced by Senators Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville), Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) would continue the Commercial Breeder Act enacted in 2009 beyond the sunset date of June 30, 2014. According to the Fiscal Note, this program had a closing deficit of $965,750 on June 30, 2013. The bill FAILED in Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources at the March 12 hearing - Ayes 3, Nays 4, Not Voting 1, and is dead for this year.  Congratulations to Tennessee dog and cat breeders and the TN Federation of Dog Clubs for making your voice heard!

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