Legislation Update: Some of the Good, the Bad, and the UglyPosted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on June 7, 2010
Alaska: Passing almost unanimously through both chambers of the Alaska Legislature, a landmark bill is currently awaiting the signature of Alaska’s governor. This legislation makes a felony penalty available on first offenses of aggravated cruelty; makes the sexual assault of an animal a separate crime; and makes animal cruelty an aggravating factor at sentencing. ALDF provided detailed legislative analyses on the state’s animal protection laws for the bill’s sponsors, and submitted testimony in support of the legislation.
New York: A new animal abuser database bill was recently introduced in New York, bringing the total number of abuser registry bills introduced across the country this year to four. New York has another pending registry bill as well. California and Louisiana are the other two states that had abuser registry bills introduced so far this year.
Tennessee: A new “Good Samaritan” law provides immunity from civil liability to rescuers, veterinarians and others who make good faith attempts to assist stray animals that are sick or injured.
Arizona, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Minnesota joined the growing list of states and territories (now numbering 18) that have enacted laws expressly authorizing courts to include animals in domestic violence protective orders.
- SB 1277, a bill to create an animal abuser registry, failed to advance last week due to exorbitant cost estimates provided by the California Department of Justice (DOJ). While other states considering abuser registry legislation have compiled fiscal estimates ranging from $19,000 to $60,000 for costs of implementation of such registries, California’s DOJ, in stark contrast, submitted estimates to the Senate Appropriations Committee ranging from $750,000 to $2 million. Owing to legislative deadline constraints, ALDF and the bill’s sponsor were unable to successfully challenge these figures. We hope to see the legislation reintroduced next year.
- SB 1417 recently passed the Senate and is currently pending in the Assembly. It seeks to establish new requirements for the formation of SPCAs and appointment of humane officers, including an arbitrary 5-year-wait before any new SPCA could appoint humane officers to enforce California’s animal protection laws – regardless of whether a humane officer had completed all required training and background checks. ALDF opposes SB1417 as unnecessary, and believes that its 5-year-wait is both unwarranted and unprecedented. Such lengthy waits will effectively stop the formation of new SPCAs who are solely interested in enforcing the laws. ALDF believes it is in the best interests of California’s animals to have more humane officers, not fewer. If you live in California, please contact your Assemblymember today and ask that they vote to oppose SB 1417.
Kentucky: Despite being championed by the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association, HB 238, a bill which sought to simply correct a law enacted last year that inadvertently stripped the ability of veterinarians to voluntarily report suspected cases of animal cruelty, was not passed by the Kentucky Legislature. For more background on this continuing fiasco, see this earlier blog post.