Legislative updates

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:


WASHINGTON D.C.;  State Capitols–U.S. Senator Wayne Allard,  DVM (R-Colorado) and Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota),  chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus,  on March 15 reintroduced a bill they pursued in 2000 to ban interstate transport of gamecocks.

The bill, which has 36 Senate  co-sponsors,  would allow the 47 states which have outlawed cockfighting to crack down on suspected cockfighters who claim to raise roosters strictly for sale to the three states–Louisiana,  New Mexico,  and Oklahoma–where cockfighting is still legal.

The 2000 edition of the bill eventually had 60 Senate cosponsors and more than 200 cosponsors in the House, and easily cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee,  but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) never brought it to the full Senate floor.

Allard said the reintroduced bill is endorsed by both Lott and House Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.)

In Oklahoma,  where the state supreme court is to rule on the validity of a petition to place a proposed cockfighting ban on the 2002 ballot,  the state senate on March 2002 passed a bill by Frank Shurden (D-Henryetta) to protect cockfighting,  hunting,  fishing, and rodeo with a state constitutional amendment.  If the bill also clears the state house,  and if the petition for the cockfighting ban

wins state supreme court approval,  both propositions would be on the 2002 ballot.  The anti-cockfighting measure was to be on the 2000 ballot,  but was delayed after the Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association charged that 43,305 signatures were improperly gathered.

Kansas cockfighters on March 20 killed a bill by state senator David Haley (D-Kansas City) to create a felony cruelty penalty.  A companion bill had cleared the Kansas house one day earlier.  Also on March 20,  the Arkansas house judiciary committee killed a felony cruelty penalty bill by Jim Wood (D-Tupelo),  which was vehemently opposed by the Farm Bureau Federation.

A proposed Minnesota felony cruelty bill introduced by Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) on February 22 cleared the state senate crime prevention committee,  and state representative James Clark (R-New Ulm) introduce a state house companion bill on February 23,  but a scheduled senate floor vote was indefinitely postponed on February 26 after senators Bob Lessard (IP-Intl. Falls) and Charlie Berg (R-Chokio) objected that it could apply to killing cats.  Berg,  a

trapper,  told fellow senate members that when he catches a cat,  “I practice my marksmanship.”

Bills to create felony cruelty penalties were also introduced in Nevada and Maine.  The Nevada bill was upstaged,  however,  when assembly member Tom Collins (D-North Las Vegas) introduced a bill which would prevent any local government from adopting animal-related legislation more stringent than the state laws.   Collins claimed the bill was meant to prevent animal activists from banning rodeos and cricuses,  but critics including Doug Trenner of the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society say it could undo locally appropriate animal control legislation.

The Maine felony cruelty bill was among a flurry of animal-related proposed legislation,  also including an attempt by representative Christopher Muse (D-Portland) to ban elephants from traveling circuses,  killed in committee on March 22;  a still pending bill to increase dog owners’ economic responsibility for injuries their dogs do to other people,  to enable victims to recover treatment costs without having to resort to lawsuit;  an anti-bestiality bill;  and a pair of bills to criminalize the use of threats against animals to terrorize people.  Animal abuse and threats against animals made to intimidate people are already criminalized under the anti-stalking laws of at least 40 states.

The biggest state legislative victory for animal protection of the early spring came in Mississippi,  where newly elected governor Ronnie Musgrove promptly signed into law a bill by senator Ron Farris to enable law enforcement agencies to seize animals in cases of suspected cruelty or neglect.  In Defense of Animals’

Mississippi project coordinator Doll Stanley credited passage of the bill to the work of Mississippi Animal Wel-fare Alliance secretary Marie Taylor.

Legislative brawls are brewing in California over AB 161,  SB 236,  and AB 1336,  which would bring breeders of two or more litters per year under state laws pertaining to pet dealers;  establish statewide pet licensing and microchipping,  and require that all dogs and cats be microchipped and licensed before any transfer;  and prohibit dealers and stores from selling unsterilized dogs and cats.

Introduced by assembly member Jack O’Connell (D-Santa Barbara),  for

Animal Legis-lative Activist Network founder Richard G. McLellan, M.D.,   SB 236  exempts feral cats who are under care of “registered” rescue groups.


United Kingdom


The British House of Lords –as expected–on March 26 overturned the ban on foxhunting which was passed by the House of Commons in January,  and also rejected a compromise bill which would have left the matter up to local councils.

Norman Baker,  spokesperson for the British Liberal Democrat party,  on March 12 announced that the party platform for an election campaign expected in late summer or early fall,  will “include the creation of an Animal Protection Commission,  headed by a Department of the Environment,  Transport,  and the Regions minister,  to enforce standards in the treatment of animals. We will extend the size and powers of the Home Office Inspector-ate and encourage more, and more unannounced,  inspections of establishments that engage in animal experimentation,”  Baker pledged.  The Liberal Democrats are the third largest British political party,  holding 3% of the seats in the House of Commons.


Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.