State Legislation

2015-2016 Massachusetts Legislative Session

The current session started on January 7, 2015. More than 5,000 bills were filed at the beginning of the session! Bills can still be “late-filed” throughout the session.

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The federal government has convened the 114th Congress; you can read about pending federal legislation on our website.
Bills We Support Bills We Oppose

Bills We Support

S. 2375: 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.

  • Sponsors: Senator Eldridge, Representative Rogers
  • Status: Passed the Senate on June 28, 2016; now in Committee on House Steering, Policy and Scheduling.
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H. 1220: 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 Additionally, since animal cruelty became a felony in 2004, some of the language is now outdated and would be fixed with this bill.

  • Sponsor: Representative Campbell
  • Status: Passed the House in July 2016.
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S. 2390: An Act to protect puppies and kittens (now called An Act providing additional penalties for the improper treatment of certain animals) 
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 significant or repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

  • Sponsors: Senator Spilka, Representative Bradley
  • Status: Passed the Senate on June 28, 2016; now in House Ways and Means Committee.
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H. 1555: 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. We are working on a ballot question related to the issues in these bills and are focusing on that rather than these bills.

  • Sponsors: Senator Lewis, Senator Hedlund, Representative Rogers
  • Status: In the Judiciary Committee; hearing held October 2015
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S. 2241, H. 1275: 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.

  • Sponsors: Senator Lewis, Representative Ehrlich
  • Status: S. 2241 in Senate Ways and Means; H. 1275 sent to study (bill is unlikely to move forward this session); hearing held October 2015
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S. 2369: An Act to prevent animal suffering and death (new title)
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. It would also allow citizens to intervene is certain circumstances. Lastly, it would amend the tethering law C. 140 sec 174E.

  • Sponsors: Representative Ehrlich, Senator Montigny
  • Status: Passed the Senate on June 28, 2016; now in Committee on House Steering, Policy and Scheduling.
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S. 1085, H. 1866: 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.

  • Sponsors: Senator Jehlen, Representative Rogers
  • Status: S. 1085 passed as part of S. 2369; H. 1866 in House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading
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S. 1801, H. 1274, H. 1477: An Act relating to the treatment of elephants
The Judiciary Committee is considering an amendment that would ban elephants from traveling shows in MA. While Ringling will no longer use elephants, other MA circuses continue to use these majestic animals for entertainment. As submitted, these bills would prohibit any person who houses, possesses or travels with elephants 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 captive elephants.

  • Sponsors: Senator Hedlund, Representative Ehrlich, Representative Mannal
  • Status: Sent to study (bills are unlikely to move forward this session); hearing held October 2015
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S. 2069: 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 county. They would also create an elevated penalty for chronic poachers who repeatedly violate the law.

  • Sponsors: Senator Michael Moore, Representative Mannal
  • Status: Passed the Senate; in House Ways and Means
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S. 501: 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.

  • Sponsor: Senator Gobi
  • Status: Sent to study by the Financial Services Committee (bill is unlikely to move forward this session)
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Bills We Oppose

Trapping

H. 714: An Act to establish a Beaver Damage Control Commission
This bill would create a biased commission that would make beaver trapping decisions based primarily on economical factors instead of scientific or environmental data.

  • Sponsor: Representative Kuros
  • Status: In Joint Committee on Rules
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H. 4165: An Act relative to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
This bill would replace a section of the Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131, Sec. 80A), which was passed through the ballot in 1996. This bill would make significant changes to the WPA, including removing the time limits on permits allowing body-gripping traps (in cases of health/safety), taking decision-making power regarding health/safety away from local boards of health, and giving the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife power to issue ongoing trapping with body-gripping traps without consideration of humane alternatives.

  • Sponsors: Representative Dykema
  • Status: In House Ways and Means
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Sunday Hunting

S. 415: 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.

  • Sponsor: Senator Gobi
  • Status: In Senate Ways and Means (Accompanied by H. 3236, H. 672, H. 3239, H. 762, S. 424, and S. 429; H. 1573 had a hearing in October 2015)
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Other

H. 713: 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.

  • Sponsors: Representative Kulik
  • Status: In House Ways and Means
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S. 423: 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, Hamden, and Franklin counties.

  • Sponsor: Senator Gobi
  • Status: In Senate Ways and Means

S. 430: 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.

  • Sponsor: Senator Humason
  • Status: Sent to study (bill is unlikely to move forward this session)
  • Read more

 
Bills We Support Bills We Oppose