Florida dog owners breathed sighs of relief when the hard-fought 2023 Florida legislative session adjourned on Friday, May 5th. Several problematic bills did not advance, while positive bills passed in the state legislature and await action by the Governor.
Possibly the most egregious state-level dog breeder bills (HB 1581/SB 1492) filed in the U.S. to date were strongly opposed by advocates that included Florida dog owners, sportsmen, AKC Government Relations (AKC GR), the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs (FAKC), and allied organizations. Responsible dog owners and breeders worked to provide their lawmakers with facts, in contrast to the false and inflammatory claims circulated by certain supporters of these bad bills.
House Bill 1581/Senate Bill 1492 were unreasonable, punitive, and overreaching dog breeder bills that sought to regulate owners of a single intact female dog. Associated bills HB 1583, HB 1585, SB 1494, and SB 1496 addressed funding mechanisms for the bills. Because of the hard work of Florida advocates, neither bill received a committee hearing and they died in their respective committees.
House Bill 989/Senate Bill 1006 were versions of “lawyers for animals” bills that would have authorized a court to order that a separate advocate be appointed in the interests of justice for certain civil and criminal proceedings regarding an animal’s welfare or custody. HB 989 was minimally amended, and a committee substitute was re-referred to the House Judiciary Committee where the bill failed upon adjournment. SB 1006 did not receive a committee hearing.
House Bill 157/Senate Bill 518 sought to exempt records containing information about persons who have adopted an animal from a local animal shelter or animal control agency from public records requirements. AKC GR expressed concern that this legislation could negatively impact tracking a pet with a disease process and would hide pet trafficking under the guise of rescue from public oversight. HB 157 did not receive a committee hearing. Despite concerns, SB 518 passed unanimously in both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Community Affairs and Rules Committee. It later failed in the Senate Rules Committee upon adjournment.
Senate Bill 932 was an overreaching bill that, among other provisions, sought to criminalize allowing a dog to have its nose out of a vehicle; certain accepted and safe transport methods for dogs; declawing of cats; and unattended tethering of dogs. It also sought to establish an animal abuser registry that would have included restrictions on both the abuser and others. SB 932, which received negative media attention and constituent opposition for several of its overreaching provisions, did not receive a committee hearing.
House Bill 941/Senate Bill 942 seek to authorize public housing authorities to adopt policies related to dogs provided such requirements are not specific to the breed, weight or size, and would set aside existing breed-specific ordinances in the state. AKC supported this legislation as filed. The bills passed in both chambers, SB 942 was ordered enrolled, and it will next be considered by the Governor.
House Bill 1047/Senate Bill 1300, supported by AKC, seek to increase protections for police canines, fire canines, search and rescue canines, and police horses. The bills passed in both chambers, HB 1047 was ordered enrolled, and it will next be considered by the Governor.
House Bill 719/Senate Bill 722 would allow certain out-of-state veterinarians to provide specified services under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed in the state. Both bills passed in their respective chambers, HB 719 was ordered enrolled, and it will next be considered by the Governor.
House Bill 7063 would, among numerous other provisions, establish sales tax holidays 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. The bill passed both chambers, was ordered enrolled, and it will next be considered by the Governor.
Additional Bills Tracked by AKC GR
Among other bills tracked by AKC GR during Florida’s 2023 session were:
House Bill 849/Senate Bill 800 sought to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats and would have allowed the enactment and enforcement of more stringent municipal and county ordinances regarding any animal sale. AKC GR closely monitored this problematic legislation. Neither bill received a committee hearing.
House Bill 1117/Senate Bill 554/Senate Bill 1600 sought to address veterinary telemedicine. HB 1117 passed in the House, then died in the Senate Rules Committee. SB 554 and SB 1600 did not receive hearings in their respective committees.
AKC congratulates Florida dog owners, sportsmen, allied organizations, and especially FAKC for their successful defense of reasonable and enforceable dog-related legislation during the 2023 legislative session.
AKC GR will provide updates on bills pending action as developments warrant. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.