The current session started on January 3, 2017. Usually, more than 5,000 bills are filed at the beginning of a session. The filing deadline for this session was January 20, 2017. Bills can still be “late-filed” throughout the session. The information below is partial and will continue to be updated. (Note that newly filed legislation now has docket numbers – HD or SD – that will change to bill numbers when assigned to committees.)
The federal government has convened the 115th Congress; you can read about legislation from the 114th session and stay tuned for updates for the new session.
SD 405, HD 2481: 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.
SD 1636, HD 1502: An Act to protect puppies and kittens
This bill would prevent the sale of dogs or cats 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 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
SD 1460, HD 1438: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals
This bill would permit animal control officers and humane law enforcement officers to write a citation when farm animals are kept in cruel conditions including filthy and dirty confinement, exposure to excessive animal waste, garbage, dirty water, noxious odors, or dangerous objects that could injure or kill an animal.
SD 457, HD 758: 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 bringing Massachusetts law in line with federal regulations limiting 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 949, HD 2206: Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II)
This bill would update a number of provisions in Massachusetts animal cruelty laws to increase reporting, update penalties, and prohibit certain cruel acts. This bill builds upon changes to the state’s animal cruelty laws made with passage of the PAWS Act in 2014.
HD 295, SD 1328: An Act relating to the treatment of elephants
This bill would ban elephants from traveling shows in MA. While Ringling will be closing its doors, other MA circuses continue to use these majestic animals for entertainment.
SD 654, HD 3464, HD 3466: An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices
This bill 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 country. They would also create an elevated penalty for chronic poachers who repeatedly violate the law.
SD 429, HD 1562: An Act concerning the use of certain insurance underwriting guidelines pertaining to dogs harbored upon the insured property
This bill would prohibit Massachusetts homeowners insurance companies from discriminating or charging higher premiums for coverage based on breeds of dog.
HD 3063: An Act to study the health of the Blue Hills forest and ecology to inform long-term reservation management
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) blames deer populations for forest decline in the Blue Hills. In 2015, DCR allowed a four-day deer hunt to reduce deer populations, and a second hunt took place in 2016, with the addition of bow hunting and more hunters. This bill would support a study and scientific survey of the Blue Hills Reservation to determine why forest health is declining.
SD 1391: An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming.
This bill would enable additional monies to be directed to the Mass Animal Fund. Its purposes are to “… offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of homeless dogs and cats, to offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of dogs and cats owned by low-income residents and to assist with the training of animal control officers consistent with section 151C of chapter 140.” Currently, income to the Fund comes from a donation option on Line 32f on the state income tax return. Administrative fines issued in pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129 (“Enforcement actions; jurisdiction of commissioner of agriculture, district and superior courts”) would now go to the Fund.
HD 1368, HD 1945, HD1061: Trapping legislation
A number of bills are filed each session that remove current restrictions on cruel body-gripping conibear and leghold (sometimes called foot-hold traps) which are used to capture fur-bearing animals, such as beaver and coyote. These changes would effectively allow a return to the days of recreational trapping with these inhumane and indiscriminate devices, something that64% of Massachusetts’ voters decried in 1996 when they voted in fabor of a ballot initiative known as the Wildlife Protection Act.
Sunday hunting legislation
A number of bills are filed each session that would remove the statewide ban on Sunday hunting. 86% of Massachusetts’ residents want to maintain the ban on Sunday hunting while hunters represent just 1% of the Massachusetts population. Sunday hunting bills prioritize a small minority over an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts’ residents that do not hunt, yet enjoy non-consumptive uses of nature and wildlife.
SD 348: An Act relative to the moose population in the Commonwealth
This bill would allow the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to take measures to insure a stable moose population and address public safety concerns in Worcester, Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties.