In response to the latest coronavirus news, AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) has learned that Legislative Leaders in New England have taken various steps to mitigate the outbreak. Please refer to the summary for each state below and know that we will keep you informed of changes as they develop.
Connecticut: After initially re-scheduling public hearings from last week on bills impacting dogs, the General Assembly has now closed the capitol to suspend legislative activities thought March 30th. The understanding is that bills heard prior to the shutdown remain active to be voted upon, but those not heard are inactive. Only one bill included in AKC GR’s prior alert, HB 5368 had a hearing and has been voted favorably by committee.
HB 5368 would establish a taskforce composed of political appointees to study the use of breed of dog as an underwriting factor for homeowner’s insurance policies. AKC believes that insurance companies should determine coverage of a dog-owning household based on the dog’s deeds, not the dog’s breed. If a dog is a well-behaved member of the household and the community, there is no reason to deny or cancel coverage. As written, this bill provides no assurances that the taskforce’s composition would be fairly balanced in representing the perspectives of dog owners, in addition to insurers.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: All dog owners in Connecticut are encouraged to email their state representative and senator requesting they oppose HB 5368. To identify your legislators and how to contact them, go to https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp. Let them know you are opposed to HB 5368 allowing insurance industry members to make homeowners policy recommendations without the input of responsible dog owners.
Maine: The Maine Legislature announced on Friday that the 2020 session would end on Tuesday, March 17. Members of the budget committee were expected to work over the weekend to finalize a spending proposal, including provisions for a response to the coronavirus, by the Tuesday deadline. Other measures endorsed by legislative panels could be considered by the Legislature when it meets on what is likely to be a marathon day on Tuesday. Unfinished matters are said to be carried over until the Legislature reconvenes.
Massachusetts: The General Court in Massachusetts has postponed until further notice committee hearings and public events scheduled in the statehouse. The 2020 legislative calendar does not officially require adjournment until July 31, 2020.
New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, the General Court has suspended all legislative activities for at least one week, March 16-20, 2020. The State House will be closed to legislative members, legislative staff, and visitors, but remain open for governmental operations until further notice.
Rhode Island: There will be no General Assembly sessions during the week of March 16-20, 2020. All legislative offices will also be closed.
Vermont: The Vermont Legislature has adjourned until Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The State House will be closed during the adjournment. All staff except essential security and IT personnel will work remotely.
AKC GR will provide additional information as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.