The Maryland Legislature passed three great bills for animals this year, and we are thrilled to report that Governor Martin O’Malley has now signed all of them into state law! The new laws establish a statewide spay/neuter fund; close a loophole in Maryland’s animal fighting law by adding a prohibition on “baiting”; and prohibit the sale and possession of shark fins.
Maryland will soon have one of the most robustly funded statewide spay/neuter programs in the country. As outlined in the Spring 2013 issue of our members’ magazine ASPCA Action, the new program will be funded by a small surcharge on commercial pet food brands registered in the state, and is expected to generate approximately $1 million annually by 2016. This small fee on pet food will have almost no effect on pet parents, but a huge, positive impact on efforts to manage pet overpopulation in Maryland.
“This innovative spay/neuter program is one of the most important victories for animals in many years,” says Ann Church, ASPCA Vice President of State Affairs. “This legislation should be used as a model for other states to adopt similar provisions, and we applaud the many local animal shelters and humane groups who worked together to make this new program a reality.”
Inspired by this big win in Maryland? Visit our Advocacy Center to find out you can take action for animals in your state, and share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TakeAction.
As we mentioned earlier today, the House Agriculture Committee moved forward with a new Farm Bill last night. Although the ASPCA is thrilled that the bill includes a provision to make it a crime to attend animal fights, we’re very disappointed that a last-minute amendment proposed by Rep. Steve King of Iowa also passed committee. This amendment would have far-reaching consequences for state laws that protect animals.
The King Amendment would gut existing state laws to protect animals as well as undermine states’ ability to pass their own laws regarding any “agricultural product”—including animals. Because of the broad nature of the federal definition of agricultural products, this amendment could potentially undercut state laws and regulations on a whole host of animal welfare issues, including not only farm animal welfare, but also issues from puppy mills to horse slaughter. This amendment violates states’ rights and is a solution in search of a problem.
“This is a federal law that seriously inhibits a state’s ability to protect animals,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA’s Government Relations department. “For example, in California, where a state initiative will require eggs to be cage-free in a few years, the King Amendment would block this type of voter-approved legislation and permit eggs to be transported to California from other states with fewer protections in place.”
Though we’re dismayed by this addition to the Farm Bill, we’ll continue to fight efforts to undermine animal welfare legislation on the state level. Please stay tuned to the blog for the latest news about the farm bill, and join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to learn how you can take action for animals in your state.
Late last night, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee approved an amendment to the House Farm Bill to strengthen our nation’s laws against animal fighting. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), would make attending an organized animal fight a federal offense and impose additional penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight. This amendment is similar to the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, standalone legislation with strong bipartisan support from 147 cosponsors introduced by Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), John Campbell (R-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA) and McGovern.
“Animal fights are cruel and gruesome spectacles where animals are exploited and forced to fight as their owners profit from their torture,” said Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Children need protection from the dangerous culture of animal fighting, as well as its associated illegal activities such as drugs, weapons and gambling. The ASPCA applauds Representative McGovern and all our Congressional leaders for their continued leadership in strengthening laws to combat animal fighting and protect public safety.”
While clearing the House Agriculture Committee is a major success, we can’t declare victory just yet. The U.S. Senate’s version of the Farm Bill also includes the anti-animal fighting provisions, but both bills still must pass in their chambers of origin. Once that is achieved, the House and Senate have to reconcile any language differences prior to full passage.
We’d like to thank all the representatives on the House Agriculture Committee who voted to include the animal fighting spectator prohibition language in the House Farm Bill. If you see your rep in the list below, tell him or her thank you! You can find your rep’s contact info here.
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Ann McLane Kuster
Sean Patrick Maloney
Please be a voice for animals—join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and we’ll let you know when it’s time to contact members of Congress about this and other important animal-related bills.
In an exciting victory for animals and advocates in the Lone Star State, Texas legislators have passed a law prohibiting the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals. Sponsored by Senator Kirk Watson, this new law, which became effective immediately upon Governor Rick Perry’s signature on May 10, will also protect shelter workers from dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide.
The ASPCA partnered with the Texas Humane Legislation Network to help ensure this critical legislation passed during the current session. The new law makes sodium pentobarbital injection, also referred to as euthanasia by injection (EBI), the state’s only approved method of euthanasia. Euthanasia by injection takes effect faster, acts more reliably and causes less pain and trauma than gas.
In situations where euthanasia must be administered, it should be done with compassion and care, which gas chambers do not provide. We applaud Governor Perry and Senator Watson, as well as all of our Texas Advocates, for taking this important step for animals.
This morning, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam vetoed his state’s dangerous anti-whistleblower/“ag-gag” bill, Senate Bill 1248/House Bill 1191. This is a major victory for animal welfare and consumer safety—if signed into law, this legislation would have thwarted investigations of agricultural enterprises and protected animal abusers instead of working to prevent such mistreatment.
Governor Haslam’s veto comes just days after Tennessee’s Attorney General declared the legislation “constitutionally suspect under the First Amendment on three grounds” and noted that it could violate a person’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Animal abusers in Tennessee have good reason to want to keep their cruel and illegal actions out of sight. While most states exempt farm animals from their animal cruelty statues entirely, last year Tennessee passed a bill, spearheaded by the ASPCA, to make extreme acts of cruelty to livestock subject to felony-level penalties.
Investigations on farms have been extremely successful in documenting the inhumane treatment of animals, uncovering crucial health and welfare information and spurring many groundbreaking reforms. If Tennessee’s ag-gag bill had become law, the cruelty revealed by these types of investigations—such as the gruesome beating and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses disclosed last year—would remain hidden from the public.
We thank Governor Haslam for listening to the citizens of Tennessee and preventing this harmful and unnecessary bill from becoming law. We also applaud and thank our Tennessee Advocates, local humane organizations, and groups representing other interests (including civil liberties, journalism, religion, food safety and the environment) put at risk by this bill for their support in fighting it!
Where does your state stand on anti-whistleblower legislation? Find out here, and be sure to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade so you can take action on current animal-related bills in your state!