2023-2024 Massachusetts Legislative Session
The current session started on January 4, 2023 and formal sessions end on July 31, 2024. January 20 was the deadline for bills to be filed. Bills can also be filed during the session as “late files.”
Usually, more than 6,000 bills are filed at the beginning of a session and another couple of thousand are late filed.
Legislators have until bills are reported from their first committee to co-sponsor bills. Find out how to contact your legislators, and learn tips on how to engage with them.
And to receive ongoing updates, join our Animal Action Team, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
Bills We Support:
S. 1142/H. 1718: An Act relative to the humane protection of animals
This legislation contains a collection of measures which work to strengthen and finesse our animal cruelty laws. This omnibus legislation will give law enforcement, animal control officers, judges, and district attorneys more options when it comes to addressing animal situations before they become life threatening, and then provide pre- and post-conviction options during trial and sentencing.
S. 1309/H. 2019: An Act relative to Kennel Safety — Ollie’s Law
Massachusetts currently has no state oversight of doggie daycare or boarding kennels. This legislation would require reasonable rules and regulations of these facilities, such as specifications on staff to dog ratios, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, and insurance. Many families in Massachusetts have suffered the loss or injury of a companion animal at a doggie daycare or kennel—tragedies that could be avoided by commonsense oversight of these facilities.
S. 876/H. 1367: An Act to maintain stable housing for families with pets in an economic crisis and beyond
This legislation ensures that certain types of housing agreements (such as condo bylaws, some leases, etc.), as well as public housing authorities, cannot discriminate against, or include language that limits, a tenant or resident’s ability to live in that type of housing based on the size, weight, or perceived breed of a dog owned by a tenant/resident. It also prevents insurance companies from discriminating based on dog breed.
S. 90/H. 198: An Act relative to animal welfare and DCF regulations
This bill will prevent the Department of Children and Families from using breed as a factor to determine whether a family can adopt or foster children. It also will remove timing restrictions in the statutes that allow employees and contractors of human services agencies to report suspected animal cruelty. Currently, the timeframe for this reporting has been interpreted to apply only to the 10-day investigation period. This bill will ensure that suspected animal cruelty can be reported at any time the employee or contractor suspects it.
S. 550/H. 826/S. 549: An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
This legislation would prohibit the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet shops unless the animals are from shelters or rescue organizations. Typically, pet shops instead obtain animals from substandard breeding facilities, which results in consumers unknowingly purchasing sick or genetically-compromised pets. Massachusetts state records consistently document such complaints from across the Commonwealth. State and federal records have also demonstrated that puppies from the worst “puppy mills” in the country have been sold to Massachusetts consumers via pet shops. These bills thus protect both animals and consumers, while having no impact on responsible breeders.
S. 2197/S. 2189/H. 3245: An Act relative to the use of elephants, big cats, primates, giraffes, and bears in traveling exhibits and shows
This bill prohibits the use of elephants, big cats, primates, bears, and giraffes in traveling shows in Massachusetts. These shows—using dangerous animals—are not only detrimental to animal welfare, but also present a public safety risk. Such traveling shows subject highly intelligent, social animals to coercive and abusive treatment and near-constant travel where they are deprived of exercise and the ability to express their most basic, natural behaviors, all while simultaneously putting the public at risk of both disease and injury.
S. 487/H. 825: An Act relative to pesticides
This bill requires digitization of pesticide use forms for better monitoring of the use of Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs), and requires the increased use of Integrated Pest Management strategies in Massachusetts.
S. 1076/H. 1703: Protecting animals from convicted animal abusers
This legislation would prohibit a person who is convicted of animal cruelty from owning or possessing an animal for a period of time determined by the court. It also would enable additional monies to be directed to the Massachusetts Animal Fund for the purpose of spaying/neutering and vaccinating homeless dogs and cats or those who live with low-income families.
S. 1059/H. 2102: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals
This legislation expands upon current law, found in Ch. 140 sec. 174E, which allows citations to be issued when dogs are kept in cruel conditions. This legislation extends this protection to all domestic animals. Broadening the current statute’s scope in this way allows an effective response to problematic situations without escalating them prematurely.
S. 1424/H. 850: An Act promoting humane cosmetics and other household products by limiting the use of animal testing
This legislation requires the use of non-animal test methods when available. Alternatives provide information of equivalent or superior quality and relevance to humans in comparison to animal tests. This bill applies to products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, and industrial chemicals, like those in paint; it does not apply to testing done for medical research, including testing of drugs or medical devices.
S. 190: An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing
This bill prohibits the declawing, onychectomy, or tendonectomy of a cat. The standard, elective, declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw and the first bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet, and is in fact an amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle.
S. 590/H. 849: An Act prohibiting the sale of fur products
This legislation would prohibit the sale of new fur products in Massachusetts. Horrific animal cruelty is involved in making fur products. On fur factory farms, wild animals spend their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors. The stress from living in a tiny cage causes serious welfare problems, such as self-mutilation and infected wounds, and can increase pathogen shedding and the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, such as COVID-19.
S. 519: An Act relative to ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking
These bills clamp down on illegal ivory and rhino horn sales by restricting the sale, trade, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts, ensuring that the Commonwealth no longer contributes to the unprecedented global poaching crisis. 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, and forest elephants are predicted to be extinct within a decade if current poaching rates continue. All five subspecies of rhinos are endangered. This unprecedented poaching crisis is not just a global or federal issue, however. Massachusetts plays a substantial role, and bold action is required on the state level to save elephants and rhinos from extinction.
S. 533: 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 for the purpose of spaying, neutering or vaccinating homeless dogs and cats, or those that live with low-income families, by stipulating that administrative fines issued pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129 (“Enforcement actions; jurisdiction of commissioner of agriculture, district and superior courts”) would go to the Fund.
H. 1604: An Act addressing investigations of reports of animal abuse and neglect
This bill would improve laws relating to the reporting of animal abuse by human services agencies by removing the time limitation by which they need to make such reports.
Bills We Oppose:
H. 800/H. 877/H. 911/H. 912: Sunday hunting legislation
These bills would, in various ways, end 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. These bills prioritize a small minority over an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents who rely on Sunday to be the one day of the week during hunting season when they can safely venture into the woods without fear of an accident. As the third most densely populated state in the nation, lifting our Sunday hunting ban would introduce unnecessary risk to the public, as well as to the companion animals with whom they spend time in the outdoors.
S. 492/H. 799: Trapping legislation
This legislation would remove or weaken 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 that 64% of Massachusetts voters rejected in 1996 when they voted in favor of the Wildlife Protection Act ballot initiative.
S. 500: An Act relative to outdoor heritage
This legislation removes certain prohibitions on carrying firearms, making enforcing poaching laws more difficult; would lift the statewide ban on Sunday hunting; would lift the ban on moose hunting; would allow the use of dogs to hunt upland game and expand the use of dogs for hunting waterfowl (removing the restriction limiting this to just coastal waters and salt marshes); and would change hunter harassment laws from a civil to criminal penalty.
H. 921: An Act relative to hunting with artificial light
This bill would expand an already-archaic Massachusetts state law that permits spotlighting, which involves shining a bright light at a target animal to blind, and thus paralyze it. While blinded and frozen in place, they are shot. Most states ban spotlighting because it is considered unsporting, but this bill expands the practice. Spotlighting is also dangerous to public health because hunters often spotlight not far from dark roads and cannot easily see passing cars or people who may be in the surrounding area and harm’s way.