The 2018 legislative session ended on May 9. Many animal bills made it farther than usual in the legislative process, especially for a short session. The results were mixed: some good bills are now headed to the Governor’s Office for signature, two important bills never made it through the Senate, even after passing the House by overwhelming margins, and one bill still has us fighting as CVA members ask the Governor to veto the Sunday bow hunting bill. At the center of the action was YOU. Your letters, emails and calls demonstrate to legislators that there are thousands of compassionate people in Connecticut who care about animals and who vote. It’s a powerful message and key to making progress for animals.
Here’s a run-down of the major legislative initiatives for the 2018 legislative session that concern animals:
- Passed: Good Samaritan Protections for persons removing an animal from a car if the animal is in “imminent danger of serious bodily injury” passed. This long-overdue law can be found in HB 5312, Section 22 and is like the Good Samaritan protections available when removing children in imminent danger from cars. Read Section 22 here to see the criteria which must be met when removing an animal: Good Samaritan Law The law becomes effective October 1, 2018
- Defeated: Black Bear Hunting in CT was defeated in the Environment Committee by a vote of 29 to 8. CVA was a strong voice against this bill as well as Night Hunting of Coyotes (SB348) which had a hearing with no further action taken.
- Passed: Establishment of an Animal Abuse Registry (SB523) of people convicted of both felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. The publicly available registry will go into effect only if there is separate funding. The new law requires some refinements to ensure it doesn’t result in unintended consequences of reducing the number of convictions, a pattern found with other registries. CVA will monitor this law and recommend changes as needed.
- Defeated: A bill to address the State’s dog bite law which contained a somewhat biased working group failed to get a Senate vote before the session ended. CVA worked hard to protect against breed specific discriminatory recommendations and to add experts in the fields of animal behavior and training to ensure that the bill would create fair and humane recommendations to fix the State’s broken dog bite laws.
- Passed: (1) An act concerning killing or injuring seeing eye and assistance dogs, HB 5503 as Amended, adds training expenses to those expenses which can be recovered if a seeing eye or assistance dog is killed or injured; (2) HB 5364, An act prohibiting harvesting horseshoe crabs in Stratford and also requiring DEEP to recommend other restricted areas for horseshoe crab harvesting by 2020; (3) HB 5354, An act to prohibit the commercial trade of snapping turtles until DEEP issues regulations and also to prohibit the import and release of red eared slider turtles into Connecticut’s land or waters.
- Failed Final Action: Unfortunately, a bill to limit the use of Accelerated Rehabilitation in cases of felony animal cruelty (HB 5572) and HB 5355, An Act Establishing Standards for the Adequacy of Dog Shelter During Extreme Weather both overwhelmingly passed the House, but were not considered in the Senate before time ran out at the close of the session. These types of important initiatives often take several years to pass and CVA is committed to continuing to work on these important bills in the future. Also there was no final action to continue the Task Force on Municipal Shelters and therefore the Task Force will end on December 31, 2018.
- Seeking Governor’s Veto: Sunday Deer Hunting, which was added to a large environment bill (HB5360) at the last minute, passed both Chambers and is on its way to the Governor. CVA has joined with HSUS in asking its members to contact the Governor and urge that he veto the bill.
As we celebrate our victories CT Votes for Animals recognizes that legislative changes to protect animals doesn’t come easily or quickly. As we look back at all we’ve accomplished over our last 10 years and all the progress that still must be made, it deepens our commitment to continue to fight for the important protections for animals and to ensure that the voices of those who care about animals in our state are heard.
There’s no time to rest; we’re already putting plans in place now for the summer and fall. It’s going to be exciting as we find new ways to expand our membership base and develop strategies that will strengthen our voice at the Capitol. I hope you will take this opportunity to partner with us by making a donation today. Remember CVA is 100% funded by donations from supporters like you.