News from the State Capitols
Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.
Connecticut – On January 8, 2021 the General Assembly issued a bulletin listing legislative leadership and a two-week schedule for remote committee meetings to determine organization rules governing procedures.
Florida – Several bills of interest to dog owners have been pre-filed for the 2021 session. AKC GR is monitoring closely and will provide more information when available.
Indiana – Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1002 would protect persons from liability for COVID exposure unless there was gross or wanton misconduct. HB 1002 is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee on January 12. SB 1 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 13.
Indiana – House Bill 1268 would require procedures be developed for shelters regarding “quickly and reliably” returning lost pets to their owners. AKC GR and its federation are monitoring this bill and reaching out to the sponsors to offer our insights and assistance. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.
Kentucky – AKC GR is working with advocates to introduce a bill in 2021 to limit enactment and enforcement of breed-specific laws.
Maryland – AKC GR is working with both House and Senate sponsors who have reintroduced legislation entitled “Unattended Dogs in Extreme Weather”. HB 81 and SB 122 includes exemptions for hunting, livestock herding, sledding, sporting, or training that were added last session. AKC GR is seeking to have acclimation added as an exemption for those who are humanely acclimating their dogs to weather in order to perform certain tasks. Additionally, AKC GR is seeking an amendment to ensure that dogs that cannot meet absolute temperatures listed in the bill are protected by including the phrase: “or in accordance with the age, breed, general health, or condition of the dog and its ability to withstand the environment“. AKC GR will continue to monitor the legislation and work with the sponsors to get the requested language added. Read More.
Maine – In December, the state senate re-elected Troy Jackson as Senate President and elected Ryan Fecteau as the new Speaker of the House. Lawmakers will begin the session working remotely.
Massachusetts – The 2019-2020 session finally closed on January 5, 2021 and the next day a new legislature was sworn into office. Lawmakers have until the end of the month to file legislation for consideration during 2021-2022 session.
Missouri – A number of bills impacting dog owners have been prefiled in Missouri ahead of the 2021 legislative session. These include positive bills preventing breed-specific regulations, bills protecting working dogs, and a bill protecting persons and groups from liability for COVID. Other bills filed include allowing private citizens to remove animals from vehicles in certain instances, a tax credit for those who purchase a rescue dog, the creation of the crime of animal hoarding, and the establishment of an animal abuse registry. AKC and its state federation will be closely monitoring all bills impacting dog owners and provide more information as it is available.
Montana – A bill prefiled for the 2021 legislative session is stated to “generally revise dog breeder laws.” No text is yet available. AKC GR is closely monitoring and will provide more information as it is available.
Nebraska – LB 52 would exempt persons from liability for exposure to COVID anytime after the bill’s effective date. AKC GR is monitoring this bill for potential impact on AKC events. The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee.
Nebraska – LB 139 would exempt persons from liability for COVID exposure unless there is evidence of gross negligence. As with LB 52, AKC GR is monitoring this bill for potential impact on AKC events. The bill is awaiting committee assignment.
New Hampshire – January 6, 2021 was the first day of the new legislative session in the House and Senate. The House elected a new Speaker and both chambers deliberated and voted upon rules for how the session will operate. The text of bills filed is slowly being uploaded to the state’s website.
New Jersey – SB 975, which seeks to establish animal trunk fighting as an animal cruelty offense, was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee in October, and has been further referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Read more.
New Jersey – On December 14, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 2868, which seeks to create court-appointed legal advocates for animals, but features language that explicitly undermines the traditional legal classification of animals as property and limits the rights of animal owners. Prior to the committee’s hearing, AKC requested that S.2868 not be passed by the committee, or in the alternative to remove the bill’s animal rights-based findings and clearly state that the provisions of the bill not impact the legal classification of animals as property. The AKC appreciates the many dog clubs and individuals who joined AKC in opposing S.2868, which outnumbered those who expressed direct support of the bill by over 6-to-1. Nevertheless, the committee disregarded those concerns and approved the bill without amendments. A companion measure, A 4533, has been introduced and assigned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. No hearings have been scheduled.
New York – As with previous sessions, dozens of bills impacting dog owners have been introduced in New York. AKC GR is reviewing these bills and reaching out to key committee chairs and legislators. None of these bills are scheduled yet for hearings. Visit www.akcgr.org for the latest alerts and information.
North Carolina – The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) has indicated the intention to have legislation filed in 2021 to require that third-party breeder services enterprises (e.g. artificial insemination) be operated only by licensed veterinarians. Available proposal language is vague and could restrict responsible breeders from performing or obtaining AIs on their dogs. It would also potentially impact breeders by closing down the three canine reproductive centers in the state that are not veterinarian-owned. AKC GR is working with policymakers and impacted stakeholders in response to the NCVMB’s proposal.
Pennsylvania – As preparations for the upcoming session take place, AKC GR had a conversation with the sponsor of the bill from last session (SB 1267) that seeks to create a Task Force to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based plan for animal welfare laws through a collaboration between veterinarians, doctors, state agencies and concerned legislators. The bill will be reintroduced and AKC GR is working with the sponsor to ensure that AKC, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and a breeder based in Pennsylvania are included on the Task Force.
Rhode Island – On January 12, 2021 the Senate will begin its session and the House of Representatives, who just elected a new Speaker of the House is scheduled to convene on January 19, 2021.
Texas – SB 323 seeks to regulate more breeders, including fanciers and hobbyists, under the state’s Dog and Cat Breeders Act. Currently, breeders must possess 11 or more intact adult female dogs to potentially be regulated. SB 323 would lower that threshold to include breeders who possess five or more intact adult female dogs. Additionally, under the current law, breeders must sell at least 20 dogs per year to be regulated. SB 323 would remove that commerce requirement entirely, but impose commercial regulations on hobbyists. It would also mandate an increase in fees for licensees. AKC GR and our Texas federation are closely monitoring developments with this harmful legislation.
Texas –Texas’ biennial legislative session was convened on January 12, 2021. The State Preservation Board has established access requirements to the Capitol in Austin, which opened to the public on January 4, 2021. Those requirements may be viewed at https://tspb.texas.gov/plan/events/tspbcal.html. Click here to view the list of Texas legislation currently being tracked by AKC GR.
Vermont – Legislative committees are scheduled to meet via zoom to provide orientation to members over the next two weeks.
Washington – HB 1054 is a comprehensive bill regarding “Tactics and Equipment Used by Peace Officers”. As part of this bill, police may not use a dog off leash to apprehend or arrest someone. AKC is monitoring this bill, which is pending in the House Public Safety Committee.
Washington – SB 5114 would expedite the reopening of the state and move all counties into the next phase to allow more gatherings and business openings. AKC is monitoring this bill, which could impact pet businesses and AKC events in the state. The bill has been assigned to the Senate State Government and Elections Committee.