Legislative Update - July 2014

Updated July 25, 2014

The first year of the 2-year Massachusetts legislative session has ended and we are well into the second year with mostly good news to report:

General info

Lobby Day for Animals 2014 was held on March 18, 2014 and was a great success! And our mascot dog for the day was adopted by a Seantor!

Bills Signed Into Law (or headed to the Governor)

S. 1172, sponsored by Senator Spilka, protects pets in disasters and was signed into law by the Governor on March 24, 2014. See photo.

H. 4088 (formerly H. 3571), sponsored by Senator Lewis, would stop the market for shark fins to help end this cruel practice. This bill was signed into law by the Governor on July 24, 2014

Wildlife Bills

One bill, H. 4114, that would expand hunting by allowing hunting of deer with bow and arrow on Sundays passed the House in May. We were very concerned that this would repeal the 300-year-old prohibition on Sunday hunting. Fortunately, the bill did not move forward by July 31, 2014, the end of the formal legislative session, meaning it is unlikely to move forward in the 2013-14 session.

H. 1976 and H. 4006 would both have expanded trapping. These bills were released favorably form the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee but were then sent to a "study" by the Health Care Financing Committee making it highly unlikely they will gain any momentum.

S. 1948 (formerly S. 381, sponsored by Senator M. Moore) would increase penalties for illegal hunting. This bill passed the Senate on June 19th and is now in the House.

Bills Protecting Companion Animals

S. 942, would require owners of rented properties to check them for abandoned animals within 3 days after tenants move out; if abandoned animals are found, owners must report to the animal control officer or other authorities (sponsored by Senator Eldridge). This bill passed the Senate on June 19th and is now in House Sterring and Policy.

Legislation that addresses animal cruelty, filed in the wake of the “Puppy Doe” case had a hearing and a bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in late June/early July. It has been reported favorably from the House Committee on Ways and Means. S. 2345 increases penalties for animal cruelty, mandates veterinary reporting of cruelty, and establishes a task force to look at all Mass cruelty laws.

H. 3762, a revised version of 2 bills (filed by former Rep. Reinstein, Senator Spilka) that were pending in the Municipalities and Regional Government Committee was released with a favorable report. This bill would provide better remedy options for people who sell dogs or cats who have health problems, prevent the sale of puppies or kittens under 8 weeks, and require the regulation of breeders who keep at least 6 intact females between 1 and 8 years of age.

Animal shelters and rescue groups testified in September on proposed regulations regarding all aspects of sheltering. We continue to work to advocate for changes that would be less harmful to animal shelters and the animals we serve, while still protecting public and animal health.

Bills that will not Advance this Session

S. 969 was the bill filed to repeal some parts of last year’s animal control bill to allow breed-discriminatory ordinances in municipalities was sent to a “study committee” meaning it will not advance.

S. 1626 a bill that would ban the use of the bullhook on traveling elephants was also sent to a "study" and will not advance this session.

S. 2232 prohibits the intensive confinement of certain farm animals. On June 25th, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary released favorably S. 2232, a bill that would only be preventative - prohibiting the use of gestation crates for pigs and veal crates for calves.  Unfortunately, the bill did not move forward by July 31, 2014, the end of the formal legislative session, and is unlikely to move forward in the 2013-14 session.

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