2015-2016 Massachusetts Legislative Session
The new session started on January 7th! The bill filing deadline was January 16th (bills can still be "late-filed" throughout the session). More than 5,000 bills were filed by the January deadline! As we learn more about new bills, we'll post them below under the support and oppose headers, so keep an eye on this page. Note that the Docket numbers (HD and SD) will change to bill numbers, likely sometime in February.
The federal government has convened the 114th Congress; you can read about pending federal legislation on our website.
|Bills we support:|
SD 902, HD 1367: An Act Protecting Abandoned Animals in Vacant Properties
This bill would require owners of rented or foreclosed properties to check them for abandoned animals within 3 days after tenants move out; if abandoned animals are found, it must be reported to the local animal control officer or other authorities.
HD 347: An Act Updating the Law Relating to Posting a Security for Seized Animals in Cruelty Cases
This bill would make changes to the statute that passed in 2002 regarding the seizure of animals in connection with cruelty investigations. The law now allows an authority that seizes an animal pursuant to applicable Massachusetts law for alleged cruelty or neglect to request the court to order a refundable security/bond to cover the costs of caring for the animal during the period of time the animal is held until the case is adjudicated. Animals are different than other seized property; animals must receive food, water, board, and often-extensive medical care from the authority that took possession of them as part of the arrest or seizure. The changes in this bill are designed to address those issues that have arisen in practice and have limited the effectiveness of this law. Additionally, since animal cruelty became a felony in 2004, some of the language is now outdated and would be fixed with this bill.
SD 974, HD 2126: An Act to Protect Puppies and Kittens
This bill would prevent the sale of dog or cat less than 8 weeks of age, provide a remedy for the sale of sick dogs and cats, regulate certain breeders, and ensure the sources pet shops receive puppies and kittens adhere to certain standards and don't have significant or repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
HD 497: An Act to Ensure Adequate Care of Animals In Cities and Towns
This bill would clarify the existing animal cruelty laws and give specific express notice to animal owners and possessors that they have an obligation to provide their animals with veterinary care that is necessary to prevent or relieve their animals’ suffering. Over 20 states have some provision in their statutes creating such a duty. the already existing parameters of the Massachusetts’ animal cruelty laws.
SD 466, HD 1371: An Act to Ensure Continued Humane Animal Care and Support Family Farms in Massachusetts
This bill would prohibit the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs; that means that standard veal crates and gestation crates for pregnant pigs would not be allowed in the Commonwealth.
SD 648, HD 1935: An Act Preventing the Trafficking in Ivory and Rhino Horns
This bill will clamp down on illegal ivory and rhino horn sales by prohibiting the sale, trade and distribution of these products within our state. It will ensure the Commonwealth doesn’t play a role in the unprecedented global poaching crisis by prohibiting the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Elephants are being killed at an unsustainable rate; 35,000 African elephants were slaughtered in 2012 alone to satisfy the ivory market – an average of 96 per day. Of the 5 remaining species of rhinos, 3 are classified as critically endangered. Rhino horns are more valuable than gold, procuring up to $65,000 a kilo. For this reason South Africa, home to over 90 percent of the world's rhino population, saw a record number of poaching in 2014.
SD 1735, HD 1323: An Act Protecting the Health and Safety of Animals in Cars
This bill would give animal control officers, law enforcement officers and fire fighters specific authority to remove an animal, and cite the owner, when the conditions in a car are expected to threaten the health of the animal due to extreme heat or cold.
SD 1231, HD 1370: An Act Strengthening the Enforcement of Certain Dog Laws
This bill would allow MSPCA and Animal Rescue League of Boston officers to enforce the provisions in the new Ch. 140 sec 174E to be able to better protect dogs.
SD 982: An Act Concerning the use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored upon the Insured Property
Would prohibit Massachusetts homeowners insurance companies from discriminating or charging higher premiums for coverage based on breeds of dog.
SD 190, HD 1521, HD 1117: An Act Relating to the Treatment of Elephants
This bill would prohibit any person who houses, possesses or travels with elephants utilized in traveling shows from using any implement that would result in physical harm or from keeping the elephants constantly restrained by chain or similar device. For example, the bullhook (or ankus) which is a club made of wood, metal, or other substantial material, with a sharp steel hook and metal poker at one end is commonly used to train an elephant.
SD 447, HD 3146: An Act Enhancing the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices
Would deter poaching, which is the illegal harming or killing of wildlife, by increasing penalties to bring them in line with other states around the county. They would also create an elevated penalty for chronic poachers who repeatedly violate the law.
SD 1042: An Act to Enhance the Management of Problem Wildlife
Past sessions have seen a lot of activity around the beaver trapping issue. There is one point that everyone seems to agree on: more data on animals trapped is needed. This bill would require that people who are granted permits to remedy wildlife conflicts report the outcome to MassWildlife so they can track the numbers of animals taken by trappers, statewide populations, complaints about species, locations of complaints, and the methods chosen to remedy them.
|Bills we oppose:|
HD 2063: An Act to promote the care and well-being of livestock
This bill would create a board to "promote the care and well-being of livestock"; however, we have concerns that such a board could use factors set forth in the authorizing language to consistently vote against improved humane standards. Therefore, we oppose the bill as currently written.
HD 1970: An Act Relative to Beavers
This bill would would strike the entire Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131 sec. 80A) and would repeal all the restrictions on body-gripping traps.
SD 1091: An Act Valuing Our Natural Resources
This bill would amend portions of the Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131 sec. 80A) to allow the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or its agents, to use restricted body-gripping traps for management of furbearing wildlife during their established seasons (currently, only box/cage traps are allowed for furbearers during the trapping season).
SD 931: An Act to Protect Children and Adults from Wildlife
This bill weakens trapping restrictions; it authorizes the Department of Public Health and municipal boards of health to issue emergency permits for trapping coyote, fox or fisher cats.
HD 149: An Act Relative to Beaver Dam Emergencies
Would transfer authority for emergency permit decisions from local agencies to the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
HD 1546: An Act Conserving Our Natural Resources
This bill would strike a portion of the Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131 sec. 80A) to allow various local, state, and federal agencies to use restricted conibear traps, and prohibited snares and other traps, for a variety of reasons throughout the year, as well as allow the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or its agents, to use these traps during the recreational trapping season.
SD 1099: An Act expanding the powers of the director of Fisheries and Wildlife
This bill would give the power to the director of Fisheries and Wildlife to allow bow hunting for deer on Sundays.
HD 1959: An Act expanding the powers of the director of Fisheries and Wildlife
This bill would give the power to the director of Fisheries and Wildlife to allow Sunday Hunting.
HD 1872: An Act Authorizing the Use of Bow and Arrows for Sunday Hunting
This bill would allow bow hunting on Sundays.
SD 1587: An Act Relative to the Hunting of Bear
This bill would effectively repeal the ban on unfair hunting practices against bears, including bear baiting and bear hounding. Hounding and baiting were banned in statute in 1996. Baiting had been prohibited by regulation prior to 1996.