State Legislation

2017-2018 Massachusetts Legislative Session

The current session started on January 3, 2017 and the formal legislative session ended on July 31, 2018. Some “non-controversial” bills may be able to move until December 31, 2018. Usually, more than 5,000 bills are filed at the beginning of a session and another couple thousand are late filed.

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The federal government has convened the 115th Congress; read about legislation from the 115th session.

Bills We Support Bills We Oppose

Bills We Support

S. 2646: 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. It would build upon changes to the state’s animal cruelty laws made with passage of the PAWS Act in 2014.

S. 2640: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals
These bills would permit animal control officers and humane law enforcement officers to write a citation when farm animals are kept in cruel conditions, which would include filthy and dirty confinement, exposure to excessive animal waste, garbage, dirty water, noxious odors, or dangerous objects that could injure or kill. The law currently only applies to dogs.

S. 2624: An Act protecting research animals
This bill would facilitate a relationship between laboratories that use dogs and cats for research purposes and registered non-profit animal rescue organizations so that when the animals are no longer needed they can be made available for public adoption.

S. 2187 (S. 1127, H. 2426):  An Act protecting abandoned animals in vacant properties
These bills 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, they must be reported to the local animal control officer or other authorities.

S. 2331 (formerly S. 1155): An Act to protect puppies and kittens 
These bills would prevent the sale of dogs or cats less than 8 weeks of age, provide a remedy when sick dogs and cats are sold, regulate certain breeders, and ensure the sources pet shops receive puppies and kittens from adhere to certain standards and don’t have multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

S. 2575: An Act preventing the trafficking in ivory and rhino horns
This bill would clamp down on illegal ivory and rhino horn sales by limiting the sale, trade and distribution of these products within the 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.

 H. 418: An Act relative to the use of elephants in traveling acts
This bill would ban elephants from traveling shows in Massachusetts. While Ringling will be closing its doors, other circuses continue to use these majestic animals for entertainment in the state.

S. 2248: An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices
These bills 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.

S. 533, H. 554: 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.

H. 4270 (previously H. 3562): An Act to study the health and ecology of the Blue Hills forest and ecology to ensure 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.

S. 457: 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 in the Fund comes from a donation option on Line 33f on the state income tax return. Administrative fines issued pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129 (“Enforcement actions; jurisdiction of commissioner of agriculture, district and superior courts”) would now go to the Fund.

S. 459: An Act concerning the use of animals in product testing
This bill would require the use of available test methods that avoid or reduce animal testing of products and ingredients. Alternatives provide information of equivalent or superior quality and relevance to humans in comparison to animal tests. The 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.

H. 1652: An Act designating the month of October as Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
States that the governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting apart the month of October as Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, to increase public awareness and encourage the adoption of shelter and rescue dogs in Massachusetts, and recommend that the day be observed in an appropriate manner by the people.

S. 470: An Act banning the sale of cats and dogs in commercial pet shops
This bill would ensure pet shops to provide puppies and kittens to the public only if they are obtaining those animals, through shelters and rescues.

H. 4234 (S. 424, H. 2121): An Act reducing plastic bag pollution
These bills would create a uniform, statewide ban on single use plastic bags in stores that are 3,000 feet or larger, or have 3 or more locations. The bill has a one year phase-in for cities and towns without an existing ban, and allows stores to sell recycled paper bags or reusable grocery bags after the plastic bag ban is in place. The toll on animals who ingest single-use plastic shopping bags is immense. Some ocean animals mistake the bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics, and die of starvation; others become entangled.

S. 406 and H. 407: An Act protecting dogs at boarding kennels and daycare facilities
These bills would require regulations for the operation of boarding facilities.

Bills We Oppose


H. 442, H. 421, H. 456, H. 470, H. 3563: Trapping legislation
A number of bills are filed each session that 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 decried in 1996 when they voted in favor of a ballot initiative known as the Wildlife Protection Act.

Sunday Hunting

 S. 2463 (now includes S. 445, H. 420, and H. 469): 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 who do not hunt, and who enjoy non-consumptive uses of nature and wildlife.

 S. 2464 (formally S. 437): An Act Relative to Outdoor Heritage
This bill would remove a number of restrictions and bans involving hunting practices such as Sunday hunting, moose hunting, and spotlighting. It would also remove some prohibitions on carrying firearms, making enforcing poaching laws more difficult.

Other Bills We Oppose

S. 431: 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.

H. 4050 (formerly H. 441): An Act to promote the care and well-being of livestock
This bill would create a board to advise the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources on actions regarding keeping and treatment of livestock and the viability of farms and related businesses involved in keeping livestock. Only 2 of the 13 members would specifically represent animal protection interests.

H. 3212: An Act to Protect Pets
Despite the title, this bill would be harmful to animals. Basically, the pet shop industry took S. 2331 (see above) and removed many of the important provisions to protect animals. And — it has a provision that would prevent cities and towns from enacting their own ordinances (like Boston, Cambridge, and Stoneham have) and nullify those that exist.


Bills We Support Bills We Oppose


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