Monday, April 18, 2011

Legislative Update

There are a number of animal law related bills pending in the Florida Legislature.  Here is an update provided by The Humane Society of the United States.
Greyhounds Continue to Win! Last week the bill to remove minimum race requirements for dog tracks (HB 1145 Young/SB 1594 Sachs) known as the "greyhound decoupling" bill passed the House Finance and Tax Committee by a wide 21 to 2 margin and passed the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Finance and Tax 4-2. The bill is expected to have one more committee stop in each chamber before a Floor vote, so even though we're not there yet, we're getting close.

This bill would allow tracks to continue operating other gambling without subjecting greyhounds to long-term confinement, injuries, and other mistreatment.

Thanks to those of you on who received action alerts and for a second time made calls and sent emails to your legislators. The greyhound breeders have been trying very hard to kill these good bills-and it's much easier to kill a bill than pass one-but legislative offices reported lots of phone calls in support of the bills, so thank you!  (And if you're looking for a greyhound, check out Batman, available for adoption through Greyhound Adoptions of Florida).
Bestiality Bill Passes Final Two House Committees! A bill to prohibit bestiality in Florida SB 344 (Rich)/HB 125 (Kiar) cleared its final two committee hurdles in the House. It has already passed the full Senate, so we're hopeful it will pass in the near future and will continue working hard to see that the bill passes this year.
Factory Farm Cover-Up Stalled: SB 1246 (Norman, R-Tampa), which would criminalize farm workers or undercover investigators who take photographs or make video or audio recordings on a farm without the owner's written consent, passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously on 3/21.
The bill broadly defines agriculture and would make criminals of those who document all sorts of wrongdoing including, but not limited to, inhumane conditions on factory farms, puppy mills, animal fighting operations, etc.
The bill has not received another Senate hearing to date and does not have a House companion, which would be necessary for it to pass as a stand-alone bill. We will continue to closely monitor this bill. Similar power grabs by industrial agriculture are pending in other states. See this New York Times  piece for more info. If your Senator sits on the Agriculture Committee, she or he may have voted for the bill.
Bill To Give Ex-Fighting Dogs a Fighting Chance Advances: SB 722 (Norman)/HB
4075 (Garcia) to remove the automatic dangerous dog designation for dogs removed from fighting operations has cleared all of its House committees and its first two Senate Committees. The bill only has one more
Senate committee to go before heading to the Senate Floor.
Animal Fighting Bill Passes Senate Agriculture Committee: A bill to strengthen Florida's animal fighting law by clarifying the prohibition on animal fighting paraphernalia and protecting agencies from frivolous lawsuits by animal fighters passed the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously. Unfortunately, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, the first committee of reference, didn't hear the bill before the committee stopped meeting, which means this bill probably cannot pass this year. See the Naples News coverage of the story.
Spay/Neuter Bill Stuck in Committee: Since the spay/neuter funding bill (HB 359/SB 676) hasn't received a hearing, it won't be able to pass this year, unfortunately. Current legislative leadership frowns upon bills that contain fees or generate revenue. These bills  would raise funding for spay/neuter surgeries by adding a civil penalty onto citations written for violations of local animal control and cruelty ordinances. We are grateful to the sponsors, Senator Nan Rich, D-Weston, and Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, for filing these bills, and hope these bills will succeed next year.
Legislature Adopts Shelter Pet Resolution: On April 6, the Florida Legislature adopted a resolution  declaring April 2011 Adopt-a-Shelter-Pet Month. The resolution was sponsored by Senator Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, and Representative Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach.
Lawmakers Receive 2010 Humane Legislator Awards: We are pleased to announce that Florida state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Ft. Myers, and Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-The Villages, received Humane State Legislator awards for helping pass humane public policies in 2010. Senator Sobel and Representative Williams sponsored bills to prohibit the import into the state, breeding, sale and possession as pets of the large constrictor snakes and Nile monitor lizards considered "reptiles of concern"
in Florida. The bill also increases penalties for wildlife violations. Representative O'Toole vigorously called for an end to fox and coyote pens.Both policies passed into law last year. All three lawmakers have also co-sponsored the greyhound decoupling bills this year. 

On behalf of The Humane Society of the United States and our 787,000 Florida supporters, we commend Senator Sobel, Representative Williams, and Representative O'Toole for their leadership on humane legislation.  If Senator Sobel, Rep.Williams, or Rep. O'Toole are your elected officials, please congratulate them.
Want to help? Please contact your elected officials and voice your concern for these bills. Polite, respectful calls to lawmakers are the most effective way to communicate your views (second only to a face-to-face meeting). You can find contact info for your state lawmakers here.You will need your zip + 4. And if you are on Facebook, please join the Humane Society of the United States Facebook Group for more updates and information on animal issues in Florida.

This blog is brought to you by Central Florida's animal only law firm.  You can also find the Center for Animal Advocacy on Facebook, Twitter (@Petlawyers) and LinkedIn.

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