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News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.

Ten state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in session, and two state legislatures are in special session. AKC Government Relations is currently tracking more than 1,444 local, state, and federal issues. The following are highlights of current legislation around the country:

California – AB-781 would require a county to update its emergency plan to designate emergency shelters able to accommodate persons with pets on or before July 1, 2024.  The bill has passed unanimously out of the Assembly and the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and awaits action in the Senate Appropriations Committee. AKC supports this bill.

 California – AB-1215 is a positive bill that would set up a program for state administered grants to assist pets of individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness and for domestic violence survivors and their pets when accessing the shelter system. CA AB 1215 passed unanimously out of the Assembly and the Senate Housing Committee. It awaits further action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Florida – HB 941/SB 942 supported by AKC, removes an exemption from state law that allowed certain local governments to continue banning/restricting dog breeds. It also authorizes public housing authorities to adopt policies related to dogs provided that such requirements are not specific to a dog’s breed, weight, or size. SB 942 was signed by the Governor and takes effect on October 1, 2023.

Florida – HB 1047/SB 1300, supported by AKC, increase protections for police canines, fire canines, search and rescue canines, and police horses. HB 1047 was signed by the Governor as Chapter No. 2023-110 and takes effect October 1, 2023.

Florida HB 7063 among numerous other provisions, establishes sales tax holidays in 2023 for purchases of supplies necessary for the evacuation of household pets. Necessary supplies must be noncommercial purchases, subject to price limitations, which include pet foods, portable kennels/carriers, pet beds, and other items. HB 7063 was signed by the Governor. Applicable dates for this section were May 27, 2023 through June 9, 2023 and will be August 26, 2023 through September 8, 2023.

 Illinois – Senate Bill 1499 as introduced would have allowed for a person to face forfeiture of their animals for virtually any violation of state law regarding the care of animals, even without a conviction.  AKC and IFDCO expressed concerns about the one-size-fits-all nature of this punishment which could include minor, correctable infractions that do not rise to the level of a serious offense.  An amendment was added to remove the reference to basic standards of care and only apply this to violations of true cruelty laws.  The bill was signed by the governor on August 4, 2023.

 Massachusetts – SB 1056 would, among other provisions, require a minimum of 100 square feet per dog for outdoor enclosures and ban the kenneling of any dog outside unattended for more than 5 hours or from 10pm to 6am.  AKC opposes the measure as introduced. Read more.

Massachusetts – In response to dog injuries and deaths at dog day care facilities, HB 2019 and SB 1309 have been re-filed as “Ollie’s Law” and would impose requirements such as staffing ratios for boarding, training, dog day care, breeding and personal kennels. They also would create a new definition for “personal breeder kennel” as anyone with more than 4 intact female dogs who transfers any offspring. Personal breeder kennels and commercial breeder kennels would be held to the same future regulations. They have been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for September 12.

Massachusetts – HB 314 would provide consumer protections at dog day care businesses and is supported by multiple animal welfare organizations, including AKC. It has been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for September 12.

Massachusetts – SB 1311 would eliminate from current law text that exempts from pet shop licensure any person selling, exchanging or otherwise transferring the offspring of their personally owned animals. It has been referred to the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and a public hearing has been tentatively scheduled for September 12.

Massachusetts – SB 876/HB 1367 would prohibit housing authorities and certain housing agreements from discriminating against tenants based upon the size, weight or breed of dog owned. They also prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based upon dog breed and have been referred to the Joint Committee on Housing.

Michigan – House Bill 4838 seeks to restrict pet stores from only sourcing dogs from shelters and rescues.  While AKC and the state federation oppose this measure, we do appreciate that the bill clarifies the definition of “pet shop” does not include home-based breeders and hobbyists.  The bill has been assigned to the House Government Operations Committee.  In addition, several municipalities are seeking to pass measures on this issue and AKC is working with local clubs and other stakeholders to address concerns.

Montana – SB-280 institutes a low-cost licensing system for bird dog training of game birds not raised in captivity. It has overwhelmingly passed the Senate and House and was signed by the governor.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 1965 seeks to provide for an advocate in cases involving animals, and is a reintroduction of legislation considered in the 2020-2021 legislative session.  Like its predecessor, A.1965 initially featured troublesome findings, which were removed by the Judiciary Committee. A.1965 was also amended to create a two-year initial term for the program. The bill still fails to explicitly state that animals are to be considered property under New Jersey law. AKC GR and our representatives in New Jersey, along with allied animal interest groups, continue to oppose A.1965.

New Jersey – Assembly Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 981 seek to add troublesome “cost of care” provisions that could be used to erroneously deprive individuals of their property by mandating forfeiture if they fail to pay assessed costs for care of seized animals, regardless of whether the individual is found not guilty. S.981 was approved unamended by the Senate in March 2022.  One year later, the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee separately amended the bills prior to being passed by the full Assembly.  S.9891 was signed by Governor Murphy on July 26.  AKC continues to strongly oppose the new law due to ongoing constitutional concerns and the lack of protections for non-possessory co-owners.

New Jersey – Senate Bill 1803 seeks to prohibit declawing procedures from being performed on cats and other animals unless deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian.  AKC opposes this measure because it may prohibit common and accepted animal husbandry practices from being performed on dogs.  The bill was approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee, and has been rereferred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

New York – S. 4099/A. 2917 makes certain hunting competitions illegal.  As written, however, both bills contain important amendments requested by the AKC to protect training and performance events. The bills have passed the legislature and will soon be sent to the governor for consideration.  Read more.

Oregon – HB-2915 ends the sale of dogs and cats while exempting stores that currently sell such pets until September 1, 2028. The bill has passed out of the House and the Senate and was signed by the governor. AKC continues to have concerns over the erosion of consumer protections with the limitation of pet store sales of dogs and cats.

Pennsylvania – SB 746 and its companion HB 1322 seek to update the Commonwealth’s Dog Law.  Even though AKC participated in a stakeholder meeting ahead of the formal introduction, both bills contained language not included in the stakeholders’ agreed to draft that removed an existing provision providing an exemption from licensing and health certification requirements for dogs entering the Commonwealth temporarily to participate in dog events. Further, the legislation changed the provision of a veterinarian issued health certificate to an interstate certification of veterinarian inspection.  AKC GR was successful in securing an amendment to reinstate this important exemption.  SB 746 passed the Senate and currently sits in the House Appropriations Committee.  The General Assembly has recessed for the summer.

Pennsylvania – SB 785 establishes a new Animal Welfare Board empowered to review existing laws and regulations related to the keeping and handling of animals and make recommendations for changes.  Unlike a short-focused Task Force, this Board would continue until such a time that legislation was passed to eliminate it, thereby, allowing it to provide review and recommendation to any law or regulation established going forward.  During the development of the legislation, AKC GR and a representative of the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs had conversations with the sponsor to confirm representation by the American Kennel Club, the state federation, a breeder, and sportsmen.  The bill is assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.