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!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Legislation Updates and Hearing Alerts March 2, 2014

SAOVA Friends,

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed into law a bill to protect animal production facilities from outside interference and undercover videotaping. Idaho joins Iowa, Utah and Missouri in passing recent laws to protect producers and the animal agriculture industry. The governor, in signing the bill, said Idaho agricultural producers must be “secure in their property and their livelihood.” S 1337 passed the Senate 23-10-2 and the House 56-14. Three other states, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas, adopted the first generation of such measures during the 1990-91 legislative seasons.

This week Indiana legislature passed a Right to Farm bill codifying the state’s policy to protect and encourage agriculture. S 186 declares the Indiana Code shall be construed to protect the rights of farmers to choose among all generally accepted farming and livestock production practices, including the use of ever changing technology. The bill passed the Senate 40-8 and the House 67-30.

A pair of Tennessee bills are moving that would make it unlawful to use a drone with the intent to conduct video surveillance of private citizens who are lawfully hunting or fishing without obtaining the written consent of the persons being surveilled prior to conducting the surveillance.  SB 1777 passed the Senate 31-0 and will be sent to the House.  HB 1952 has been placed on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee calendar for 3/4/2014.

Additional bills and votes, when available, are tracked at the SAOVA website  Please check weekly for updates. Several bills have upcoming hearings and need your immediate attention. Cross posting is encouraged.

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

HB 4188 Animal Abuse Registry, Sponsor Maria Antonia Berrios (D-39) Amends the Humane Care for Animals Act and provides that the Department of Agriculture shall create and maintain an animal abuse registry. Failure to register is a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a subsequent violation. Persons must register annually until a court order allows the registration to cease.

OPPOSE HB 4188. Animal abuse cases comprise less than 1% of all convictions in the State of Illinois.  Advocates claim the registry will make neighborhoods and pets safer, but this promised scenario is an overly simplified solution to an extremely complicated, multifaceted problem. Animal cruelty cases are greatly varied; cruelty convictions can include anyone from an overwhelmed animal rescuer to grandma who cannot afford her dog's vet care. However, the vast majority of animal cruelty involves neglect by the animal’s owner and many cases often involve hoarders. Treatment of hoarders by mental health services seems a more prudent course of action in these situations than years of public exposure and humiliation on web site lists where they are unrealistically stereotyped as dangers to society

Agriculture & Conservation Committee Hearing scheduled for March 4, 2014 2:00 PM Stratton Building Room D-1 Springfield, IL.
Chair, Rep. Patrick J. Verschoore Phone: (217) 782-5970.
Vice Chair, Jerry Costello, II,  Phone: (217) 782-1018
Republican Spokesperson, Donald Moffitt,  Phone: (217) 782-8032
Committee Contact:

SB3138 Do Not Adopt Registry, Sponsor Sen. Sue Rezin (R, 38). Chief Cosponsor Senator William E. Brady (R, 44).  Bill requires the clerk of court to send notice of all animal cruelty convictions including the defendant's name, date of birth, physical description, and other necessary information to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for inclusion in their "Do Not Adopt" online registry. Mandates that a shelter, pet store, animal breeder, or individual must conduct a search of the national Do Not Adopt Registry prior to selling, transferring, delivering, or placing for adoption a companion animal to another person.

OPPOSE: SAOVA is adamantly opposed to Animal Abuser Registries and especially one that is privately owned and managed by the radical Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Once this information is released the state loses control over what ALDF might choose to do with it.  There are no provisions incorporated in SB3138 placing time limits for the registrant to be included in the database. There are no agreements regarding confidentiality and liability and/or limiting how ALDF can use personal information received. Unfortunately Sponsor Senator Sue Rezin is very proud of the bill and hopes to make Illinois the first state in the nation to opt-in to the ALDF registry.

Labor and Commerce Hearing Mar 5, 2014 11:00 AM Capitol 212 Springfield, IL
Senator Gary Forby, Chair, Phone (217) 782-5509
Senator Linda Holmes, Vice Chair, Phone (217) 782-0422
Senator Jim Oberweis, Minority Spokesperson, Phone (217) 782-0471
Senator Sue Rezin, Phone (217) 782-3840
Senator William Brady, Phone  (217) 782-6216
Full committee:

H 3985 Dangerous Wild Animals Act.  There will be a meeting of the Wildlife Subcommittee Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM in Room 410 of the Blatt Building. The bill will ban possession of big cats and any hybrids, wolves, bears, and many species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals including boa constrictors, reticulated pythons, Burmese pythons and crocodilians.  All species listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act are considered dangerous wild animals in this bill; this means that some species of salamanders, iguanas, fish, and even birds could be considered “dangerous” even if captive bred.
Sample letter and committee contact information at USARK:

SB 2468 Continuation of Commercial Breeder Act. Under present law, the Commercial Breeder Act requires licensure for any person who possesses 20 or more unsterilized adult female dogs or cats for the purpose of selling the offspring as companion animals. The Act is presently scheduled to expire on June 30, 2014. SB 2468 removes the expiration date from the Act so that the Act will continue to be effective beyond the sunset date of June 30, 2014. The law enacted in 2009 projected that the Act would generate more than $1 million dollars per year from licensing revenue received from an estimated 500 licensed breeders (based partially on HSUS figures). The actual number of licensed breeders as of FY2012 was 20, actual licensing revenue was $70,200, and the increased cost to taxpayers to administer the program was $365,600.

Dog and cat owners have an opportunity to end state licensing of breeders by opposing SB 2468 and allowing the commercial breeder act to expire.

A hearing is scheduled in Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee March 12, 2014.
Senator Steve Southerland, Chair, (615) 741-3851,
Senator Mae Beavers, 1st Vice Chair, (615) 741-2421,
Senator Jim Summerville, 2nd Vice Chair, (615) 741-4499,
Senator Mike Bell, (615) 741-1946,
Senator Charlotte Burks, (615) 741-3978,
Senator Ophelia Ford, (615) 741-1767,
Senator Todd Gardenhire, (615) 741-6682,
Senator Dolores R. Gresham, (615) 741-2368,
Senator Frank S. Niceley, (615) 741-2061,