Sunday, June 7, 2015

News Briefs and Updates June 7, 2015

SAOVA Friends,

We have recently added an informational page on Agency Rulemaking to our website.  We have included a guide to the rulemaking process prepared by the Federal Register which can answer basic questions on the rulemaking process such as how an agency decides to begin rulemaking and the role Congress may or may not play in the process.

Animal rights and environmental groups often submit petitions to various agencies to initiate the rulemaking process in order to advance their agendas. These groups have found it is easier working through the rulemaking process than advocating for federal legislation as it is generally very difficult to get a bill passed by Congress.  Links to rules we have selected for this page show the diversity of departments, species, and animal use covered by these petitions where various groups have demanded change.  An agency will sometimes deny acting on a petition.

Please visit the new Agency Rulemaking page 
We trust this will become a useful resource for your information and research needs.

Thank you for reading. Cross Posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to identify and elect supportive legislators

EPA and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule May 27. In its ruling release, the EPA states the rule does not create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions.  According to EPA the rules will apply only to those waters with a "direct and significant" connection to larger bodies of water that are already protected. Critics of the rule argue that it will unduly expand federal influence. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the EPA’s original proposal “dealt more with regulating land use” than water quality, and that the farm organization is still reviewing the final rule, particularly as it addresses streams, ditches, small ponds and isolated wetlands.   Congress is working on bills that will require EPA to withdraw the rule and to adhere to limiting principles that would ensure that any new proposal conforms to the jurisdictional limits set by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court.  See S 1140 Federal Water Quality Protection Act  and HR 1732 Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015 which passed the House and has been received in the Senate.

On June 3, the Connecticut Senate approved legislation that would allow Sunday archery hunting for deer on private lands in the Constitution State. Championed throughout the process by the Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, HB 6034 now heads to the Governor for his consideration.  The Sunday hunting ban in Connecticut originated from the American colonial era when puritanical “blue laws” were commonly enacted to encourage church attendance.  With the passage of HB 6034, Connecticut now joins the 45 other states throughout the nation that allow for Sunday hunting in some capacity.  Allowing Sunday hunting in Connecticut will fundamentally increase private property owners’ freedom to choose how to manage their land and its natural resources, and will provide an additional adaptive management tool for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to effectively manage wildlife resources within the state. Additionally, Sunday hunting will result in increased economic activity for the state and will increase access to the resource for Connecticut’s 21,000 archery hunters.  Source: Sportsmen’s Link

NC House and Senate voted to override Governor Pat McCrory's veto of House Bill 405, a law that supporters say protects private property rights but opponents say suppresses whistleblowers. Nicknamed an "ag-gag" bill, animal rights groups claim the measure will hide animal cruelty by preventing undercover investigations. “The Property Protection Act, a result of careful bi-partisan negotiations, balances the rights of business owners with the rights of their employees to strengthen North Carolina trespass laws”, stated Representative John Szoka (R-Cumberland), primary bill sponsor. Szoka continued, “The bill protects property owners against those who gain access to non-public areas of the owner’s property and then engage in activities that go beyond the permission given by the owner. The bill is narrowly focused on illegal activities not on infringing on the liberties of whistleblowers or press.”  Bill Sponsor Senator Brent Jackson, a farmer representing Duplin County, says employees will not be liable for filming in areas where they are allowed to be. “This has to do with employees going to places they’re not allowed to go,” he said. “As long as they’re allowed to move in those facilities, they wouldn’t be liable.”

Senate Bill 373 to amend the state’s cruelty laws unanimously passed the Senate and will be sent to the House.  The bill prohibits a dog from being tethered outside if a severe weather alert has been issued; or for more than 30 minutes if the temperature is below 32 degrees. Compliance with this requirement would be impossible for those who work and are not home should temperatures or weather change during the day.  This would also have direct, negative impact on field trials and winter dog sports.  The bill also sets specific standards for shelter and bedding for dogs that are kept outdoors.  SB 373 requires dog housing to be moisture proof with a floor raised 3 inches from the ground, wind proof, and have an eight-inch overhanging roof to keep out rain. These requirements would force dog owners, breeders, and sportsmen who keep dogs outside in winter to virtually custom build new dog houses.  The bill includes size requirements for dog houses and prohibits certain types of bedding such as hay.

Current PA law already states that it is an offense “to deprive any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather and preserve the animal's body heat and keep it dry”.  Look up SB 373  and contact your Representative now to oppose these burdensome and unnecessary regulation changes.

Animal advocates are unhappy with the new registry claiming it is not strong enough. The original bill would have placed everyone who committed abuse, including hoarders and those convicted of even misdemeanor violations, on the TN Bureau of Investigation online registry.  However, the bill was amended to only place felony convictions for animal cruelty on the registry.  Activists are already considering campaigning to elevate some animal cruelty violations to felony charges which would then allow those convicted to be placed on the registry.  Chattanooga Humane Educational Society Executive Director Bob Citrullo told reporters people who commit animal abuse progress onto other things like murders and serial killings.   In May TN lawmakers passed the first statewide abuser registry in history.  Should activists resurrect this issue, we can only hope this will be a lesson learned for lawmakers that zealots are never satisfied.

Sportsmen’s groups are applauding members of the Texas state House and Senate for passing Senate Joint Resolution 22, a constitutional amendment to protect the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife in the state of Texas. Voters will have the opportunity to ratify the amendment on November 3, 2015.

“Adoption of the Right to Hunt and Fish amendment will safeguard the hunters and anglers of Texas from extreme animal rights groups dedicated to abolishing America’s outdoor tradition,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “This important constitutional safeguard will protect wildlife and promote conservation.”

Language for the amendment includes the following:

“The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife.”

Nearly 3 million people spend more than $4 billion dollars a year on hunting and fishing in Texas. That translates into $415 million raised in state and local tax revenue. Passage of the Right to Hunt and Fish amendment ensures that money, as well as the 65,000 hunting and fishing related jobs, will stay in Texas. Source: NRA

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