CAPITOL REPORT: 2019 Legislative Session: It’s a Wrap
It’s official…the 2019 regular legislative session of the CT General Assembly adjourned sine die just before midnight on June 5. CT Votes for Animals (CVA) was at the Capitol fighting for animals up to the very last minute. It was a challenging session for sure, but in the end, we had several significant wins. We forged powerful coalitions with other animal advocacy organizations so legislators understood the animal welfare community was undivided in pressing for each bill. We made new friends. With so many new faces at the Capitol, it’s gratifying to know several are committed to supporting better laws for animals.
And even though some of our bills never made it across the finish line, they still provided a learning opportunity for legislators. This is especially true with the anti-puppy mill bill (HB 5386) and the ban on shark fin trade (HB 5251). Each time we spoke to a legislator they learned just a little more about each issue, which lays the groundwork for next time and we promise there will be a next time.
While CVA is the face at the Capitol, each of you are the soul of the organization and the energy that moves legislators to take the right action. None of this happens without you. This was evidenced by the successful efforts to stop this year’s bear hunting and nuisance wildlife bill and to put an end to the proposal to tax veterinary health services. Your calls and emails were the reason the Ban on Dog and Cat Leasing (SB 594) finally got called in the House for a vote (at fewer than 40 minutes before the session adjourned, phew!) We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Give yourself a round of applause, a pat on the back, a big hug. You are CVA’s trusted partner and from deep in our heart and for all the animals, we thank you.
2019 ANIMAL BILLS ENACTED OR STOPPED
(*CVA Priority Bills - See CVA’s website https://www.ctvotesforanimals.org/cva_bill_tracking_and_testimony for links to CVA details and testimony.)
*SB 594 Prohibition on Using a Lease to Purchase a Dog or Cat: Beginning October 1, 2019 pet stores, on-line sellers and others will no longer be able to use a leasing contract to purchase dogs and cats in CT. The predatory lending practice may result in consumers paying exorbitant prices to “finance” an animal with the potential to lose their beloved family pet if they fail to make a payment. CT joins Nevada, New York, California and Indiana in banning this anti-consumer and inhumane practice. Passed overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support in both chambers; on its way to the Governor for signature.
*SB 586 Bear Hunting and Nuisance Wildlife: By a vote of 22 Nay to 11 Yay, the Senate voted down this inhumane and wrong-headed “nuisance” wildlife bill. The bill proposed to expand hunting of wildlife, including bears, to 24/7 all year long, in the name of protecting certain agricultural crops and potentially anyone with backyard chickens and hobby bees from “nuisance” wildlife. The outcry from animal advocates was critical in blocking this bill.
*Tax on Veterinary Services: The Governor’s proposal to expand the sales tax to include a 6.5% sales tax on veterinary services was handily defeated in the Finance Committee. Medical veterinary services are a necessity and added costs could have a chilling effect on needed services for animals.
* HB7297 An Act Concerning Quarantine and Disposal Orders of Animal Control Officers: Substitute passed by Environment Committee includes only updates to improve the State’s quarantine rules; Passed in House and Senate and transmitted to Governor for signature.
Ban on Single Use Plastic Bags: A final compromise puts a 10 cent fee on single use plastic bags for the next two years with a ban going into effect in July 2021. Reducing trash and plastics from the environment is good for people and can greatly improve conditions for marine life. The ban was included in the budget, passed by both Chambers and signed by the Governor.
HB 7158 An Act Exempting Certain Persons Who Board Cats and Dogs from Obtaining a Boarding License: Amended to apply to people who board 3 or fewer animals. Passed House and Senate and transmitted to Governor for signature.
HB 6643 An Act Permitting Towns to Regionalize Animal Control Shelters: Allows towns to regionalize animal control shelters by removing certain restrictions. Passed House and Senate and transmitted to Governor for signature.
Action on Other CVA Priority Bills
*HB 5386 An Act Prohibiting the Sale or Transfer of Dogs, Cats and Rabbits at Pet Shops that are Not from Animal Welfare Organizations. A bipartisan amendment with overwhelming support would return the Committee passed “study” back to the original ban on sales of dogs, cats and rabbits. Even though the majority of lawmakers supported the amendment, tactics used by the puppy mill store owners, killed any chance of bringing the bill forward for a vote. Died at end of session.
*HB 5251 An Act Prohibiting the Sale, Trade or Distribution of Shark Fins within the State. Passed overwhelming in the House 110 -28; not called in the Senate. Died at end of session.
*SB 20 BIG SIX AFRICAN TROPHIES ACT: To ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of African giraffes, leopards, lions, elephants, black and white rhinos and their body parts throughout Connecticut. Passed Senate 32 - 4; not called in House. Died at end of session.
*SB 21 An Act Concerning the Report of the Task Force on the Humane Treatment of Animals in Municipal Shelters. Passed the Senate unanimously; not called in House. Died at end of session.
*SB 245 An Act Prohibiting Hunting Along the Quinnipiac River in New Haven. Passed Environment Committee; not called in the Senate. Died at end of session.