Monday, April 14, 2014

Legislation Briefs and Updates April 14, 2014

SAOVA Friends,

Although it may seem early to be talking about the November 2014 midterm election, it is only seven months away.  There are 44 House open seats, 8 Senate open seats, and 11 open seats for Governor with primaries already underway.  If you would like to join SAOVA's core of hardworking volunteers helping to contact and evaluate candidates and analyze voting records, please send me an email. Since 2002, SAOVA's volunteers have interviewed politicians running for election to Congress for the first time. Each election cycle, we also review the voting records of incumbents standing for reelection. Our goal is to determine candidates' positions on threats to our sport, avocations and livelihoods by animal rightists.

Thanks for reading.  Cross posting is encouraged.

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

Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that five animal rights activists were not entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief.  Although they have never been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), which criminalizes force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises, the activists sued to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief that the statute is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The plaintiffs are five longtime animal rights activists who claim their advocacy work has been “chilled” due to fear of being prosecuted as a terrorist under the AETA.  Among the plaintiffs are Sarahjane Blum and Ryan Shapiro, co-founders of which protests primarily against the foie gras industry;  and Lauren Gazzola and J Johnson who are organizers and activists for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC).  The suit was originally filed December 15, 2011. The Government moved to dismiss the case in 2012 and this was granted in 2013. First Circuit Court of Appeals has now affirmed the District Court's dismissal.

In her summary, Chief Judge Lynch stated, "[plaintiffs] in the present case present no concrete evidence to substantiate their fears, but instead rest on mere conjecture about possible governmental actions. In particular, plaintiffs' fear of prosecution under AETA is based on speculation that the Government will enforce the Act pursuant to interpretations it has never adopted and now explicitly rejects. Such unsubstantiated and speculative fear is not a basis for standing under Article III.

Introduced by Rep. Rick Crawford (R, AR) 3/6/14.
An ongoing suit filed by the National Pork Board and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) against the Environmental Protection Agency involves the question of whether the EPA may release individual farm information to environmental groups making FOIA requests. Information released by EPA last year contained tens of thousands of lines in spreadsheets often including names, home phone numbers, home emails, home addresses, and other personal information of more than 80,000 farmers in 29 states.  According to AFBF reports, EPA stood firm in its position that it had no legal obligation under FOIA to keep most of the information private.

HR 4157 prohibits the EPA, or any EPA contractor, from disclosing the information of any owner, operator, or employee of a livestock operation provided to EPA by a livestock producer or a state agency in accordance with the Clean Water Act or any other law, including: names; telephone numbers; email addresses; physical addresses; GPS coordinates; or other information regarding the location of the owner, operator, livestock, or employee.  The bill prescribes criteria for such a disclosure, however, in a statistical or aggregate form without specifically identifying information.

Novartis AG (NOVN) won a court order restricting animal-rights demonstrations at its U.K. facilities or against any of its employees after lawyers for the drugmaker said they feared it may be targeted. A unit of the drugmaker, which already has an injunction against members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, a U.K. activist group, won the extension today of restrictions to cover anyone protesting animal research. The order bars harassment or intimidation of Novartis employees, including abusive or threatening posts on websites or social media. The order also restricts demonstrations to six people or fewer, in designated protest zones, with no amplified sounds, and forbids costumes, face-coverings or “blood-splattered costumes.” Anyone breaching the injunction can be arrested.  Full story at Bloomberg Business Week

As part of the HSUS diamond anniversary celebration, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle gave the first-ever Humane Governor award to California’s Jerry Brown.  During the first three years of his current term Gov. Brown has signed 24 animal welfare bills.  Pacelle wrote, “Brown has helped cement California’s place as the top humane state, signing bills to ban the shark fin trade, halt the hounding of bears and bobcats, phase out the use of lead ammunition in hunting, and create pathways for non-lethal approaches to human conflicts with mountain lions. In his remarks to the audience, Gov. Brown spoke about the web of life and caring for all of nature, making it clear that this was a big part of his motivation in signing the bills.”  Source: A Humane Nation

According to FEC reports last month, HSLF has distributed $127,000 to members of Congress.   House members receiving the highest donations were Jeff Denham (R-CA) $5,000; followed by Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) $4,000; Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) $3,500; Julia Brownley (D-CA) $3,000; Jim Gerlach (R-PA) $3,000; Peter Roskam (R-IL) $3,000; Kurt Schrader (D-OR) $3,000.  Total donations to the House were divided $59,500 to Democrats and $32,000 to Republicans.   Top recipients in the Senate were Mary Landrieu (D-LA) at $6,000; Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) at $3,000; followed by Susan Collins (R-ME) $3,000; Jack Reed (D-RI) $3,000; Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) $2,500; Bruce Baley (D-IA) $2,000; Thad Cochran (R-MS) $2,000. Total donations to Senate members were divided $24,500 to Democrats and $11,000 Republicans.

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