Anti-cockfighting bills

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2000:


WASHINGTON D.C.– – Federal legislation to ban the transport of fighting cocks from states where cockfighting is illegal to the three remaining states where it is still permitted advanced in the House of Representatives during April, but was stalled in the Senate by Tim Hutchinson (R-Arkansas), who put a “private hold” on S-345, the Senate version of the bill, introduced by Wayne Allard (R-Colorado.)

The House version, introduced by Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), on April 12 cleared the Agriculture Committee subcommittee on livestock and horticulture over aggressive opposition from cockfighting lobbyists J. Bennett Johnson, formerly a U.S. Senator from Louisiana, and Steve Symms, formerly a U.S. Senator from New Mexico.

A similar bill applying only to Florida, introduced by state senator Ron Klein (D-Boca Raton), unanimously cleared the state senate criminal justice committee on April 11. A companion bill introduced by representative Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) was apparently dead in the state house, however, after agriculture committee chair Adam Putnam refused to add it to the agenda.

Cockfighting remains legal only in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

An initiative petition seeking to ban cockfighting in Oklahoma qualified for the November ballot in January. A Tulsa World poll showed that the proposed ban has 64% statewide support, including 62% in rural areas. A poll by the The Oklahoman, of Oklahoma City, found the proposed ban had nearly 75% support statewide.

New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, a Republican and reportedly a close friend of Texas governor George W. Bush, meanwhile named United Gamefowl Breeders Association fundraiser Ray Westall––a Democrat––to the state Fish and Game Commission. Westall was fined $5,000 in February 1999 for allowing federally protected songbirds to die in uncovered oil sumps.

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