Legislative Update: We're Almost There
The legislative session is more than half over (June 9) and all Committees will report bills for chamber consideration (JF) no later than April 9. As of this date, the animal bills successfully passed by Committee and going to the House and Senate for a vote are: SB 923, Study of Animal Cruelty Laws by the Sentencing Commission, SB 925 Prohibiting the Import of Big Six African Wildlife; HB 6048 Prohibit Greyhound Racing; HB 6504 the Department of Agriculture agency bill which makes several positive changes in the APCP (Animal Population Control Program) and removes troublesome definitions. We are very disappointed that the legislature did not consider granting local control over the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores, a ban on the sale of fur products and a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A run down of all the bills we are tracking follows:
- Oppose Bear Hunting in CT: There were more than 25 bills introduced this session to expanding hunting opportunities in CT including allowing a bear hunt in the state. The Environment Committee decided because of the complexities of legislating during a pandemic, there would be no bear hunting bills debated this year. With several representatives of the Environment Committee and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) pressing for a bear hunt, we expect there to be vigorous debate next year.
- SB923 An Act concerning review of animal cruelty laws by the Connecticut Sentencing Commission. CVA has been working closely with the bill sponsor, Representative Dorinda Borer in the progress of this bill. CVA and others supported the bill at its public hearing on March 8. The Judiciary Committee, in a unanimous vote, approved the bill at its March 29 meeting.
- SB 925 Act prohibiting import, sale, possession of the Big Six African species: elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, and giraffes. CVA testified in support of the bill at its February 26 public hearing. The bill was favorably reported out of Committee by a vote of 24 yes and 8 no; the bill is ready for consideration by the House and Senate chambers.
- HB 6048 Greyhound Racing Ban: To close the loophole in CT statutes and statutorily prohibit greyhound racing in the state. CVA testified in support of the bill at the February 25 public hearing; the Committee voted favorably to bring the bill to the House and Senate floor for consideration.
- HB 6504 Animal Welfare – Dept of Agriculture Agency bill; Legislation to make small changes to Department programs. The bill makes several improvements to the APCP programs by increasing the veterinarian vouchers, increasing from 10 to 20% the amount allocated to the feral cat grant program, and increasing the level of the low-income vouchers available to spay/neuter cats and dogs. Importantly the Committee removed the troublesome change to the definition of animal that would have prohibited ACOs from responding to wildlife issues. The bill passed Committee and is on its way to the Chambers for a final vote.
- Local Control of Pet Shops: HB 6542 would clarify that local jurisdictions have authority over whether local pet shops can sell puppy mill dogs, cats and rabbits in their respective communities. A hearing was held on March 5 where CVA and other major animal advocacy organizations testified in support of the bill. It is very disturbing to report that the Committee chose not to bring the bill for a vote, making it a dead bill for this year. CVA and other animal advocacy organizations will not stop efforts to restrict the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in CT pet shops.
- Circus Bill: SB 66 would prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals in circuses and exhibitions. The bill garnered 24 co-sponsors but unfortunately did not move forward this year. The Environment Committee limited the number of bills voted out because of the pandemic and unfortunately the circus bill got caught up in the COVID limits. The large number and broad bi-partisan support for the bill will put it in a good position for next year.
- Eliminate the Sale and Trade of New Fur Products in CT: HB 5031 The anti-fur bill also got caught up on the Environment Committee’s limit on the number of bills reported out this year due to the pandemic. There was progress, however, in educating elected officials on the cruel and inhumane issues surrounding the fur trade.
- HB5030 An Act Requiring the Tracking of Climate Change Related Emissions from Foods Consumer by Residents of the State. CVA testified in support of the bill at the March 10 public hearing. The bill has a unique opportunity to add to the State’s already successful environmental efforts by including measuring life-cycle emissions associated with food. The bill will not move forward this year. It is a unique concept which needs time to mature before the legislature will address it.
- SB 123 An Act to Increase the Penalties for Injuring or Killing a Police Dog or Dog in a Canine Search and Rescue Team: Increases the penalty from a D to a C felony. The bill successfully passed the Public Safety Committee and is on its way to the Senator for floor consideration.