June 2021 Newsletter

The 2021 Legislative Session is Over, Leaving Much Work Ahead 

The 2021 Legislative Session is Over Leaving Much Work Ahead

For animals, the 2021 General Assembly session ended not with a bang but with a whimper. CVA worked hard under difficult circumstances as the Capitol was closed throughout the entire session.  Hearings were held remotely and the successful one-on-one conversations with legislators were few and far between. Overall, CVA testified in support of more than five bills and joined coalitions to press for the passage of several bills.

 

A few bills that will have a positive impact on animals were approved.  Most significant was the new domestic violence bill that identifies animal abuse or threatened animal abuse as an important factor in these cases. The new law will codify generally accepted scientific studies which show the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty.  In addition, the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare bill (HB 6504) doubles the percent of funds (up to 20 percent) that may be available for the feral cat grant program under the Animal Population Control Program (APCP). The bill also significantly increases the reimbursement voucher to participating veterinarians as an incentive to continue providing critical spay/neuter services for the APCP program.  The legislature also passed SB 925, a pared-down version of The Big Six African Wildlife Trophy bill. It prohibits the sale and trade of body parts from the six endangered or threatened African species. The bill’s main thrust, to prohibit the importation of any African Big Six wildlife, was scrapped due to a potential constitutional conflict with federal law.  

Then there were the “crisis-avoided” bills this session. After hearing from many animal supporters, the Environment Committee halted an effort by the Department of Agriculture to redefine the role of Animal Control Officers and limit any work with wildlife. A bear-hunting amendment offered during Senate debate on the Big Six, failed in an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 27 nay, eight yea and one absent.  The defeated amendment was proposed by Senator Berthal and supported by Senators Miner, Wilson, Sampson, and Witkos. 

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Click here to see a full run down of CVA initiatives and the animal related bills considered this year.

Next Steps

There are lessons to be learned from this year’s legislative activities on animal bills.  First and foremost, we need a strong base of supporters to interact with their state representative, make known how important animal issues are to them, and be ready to hold legislators accountable.  Broadening the CVA base of supporters will be at the core of our work in the next seven months.  We will identify supporters willing to take a more active role in the legislative process and provide the needed support and guidance throughout. CVA will develop an education program on animal cruelty as part of our effort to educate legislators and expand our engagement with supporters and interested constituencies.  We will build a strong support base on the puppy mill issue and of course, educate the public so they are ready to defend against legislative efforts to begin a bear hunting initiative in CT.  There is lots to do and we will be reaching out to you in the coming months; in the interim, if you have interest to work on any of these topics or have other ideas, please be in touch at info@ctvotesforanimals.org .