The Maryland Legislature has announced that it will go into an extended recess (and possible adjournment) on Wednesday in response to public health concerns.
As a result, the House and Senate are expediting their work, and moving numerous bills very quickly, including the following:
- Senate Bill 625 – As introduced, this bill sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores. This was troubling to many home-based breeders who feared it meant that they could no longer use Facebook or other internet “brag” pages to showcase their dogs and puppies. The sponsor, Senator Ben Kramer, reiterated in a meeting with AKC GR staff in early March that it was not his intention to impact those activities or breeders who conduct sales in person.As such, Senate Bill 625 has been amended to remove all references to Internet sales, and to further clarify that a pet store does not include situations where the animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer. The new language is similar to a bill passed previously in other states (such as Ohio in 2019) to ensure that home-based breeders are not considered a retail pet store. AKC appreciates the sponsor’s willingness to incorporate these amendments and to clarify for the first time in Maryland law that home-based breeders are not considered retail pet stores.
The amendment Senate Bill 625 passed the Senate on March 15 and will be considered by the House Economic Matters Committee today.
- House Bill 406 – As mentioned in a previous alert, House Bill 406 and Senate Bill 627 are companion bills that seek to define “extreme weather conditions” to include specific temperatures. Under such conditions, the bill bans tethering for more than 30 minutes if the dog is left unattended and without access to “suitable shelter” (which is further defined in the bill). Given the absolute temperature language, the unclear definition of unattended as used in the bill and the requirement for access to “suitable shelter,” AKC was concerned that the legislation could impact dog shows, field trials, rally, agility, hunting, and other activities.During AKC GR’s meetings in Maryland in early March, team members met with the office of Delegate Mary Lehman, sponsor of HB 406, to discuss concerns. She stated her intention to keep the specific temperatures, but allow for certain exemptions. The amendment passed by Natural Resources, Agriculture & Open Space Subcommittee of the House Environment and Transportation Committee provides an exemption “if the dog is lawfully and activity engaged in hunting; livestock herding; sledding; sporting; or training.” House Bill 406 as amended passed the House on March 15, and is awaiting referral to a Senate Committee.
When Senate Bill 627 was heard before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, the sponsor, Senator Ben Kramer, offered the same amended language during the hearing. To date, the Senate Committee has yet to take any further action on the bill.
- House Bill 863 – As introduced, this bill sought to ban organized “hunting or killing contests”, with the intent to stop certain activities such as coyote hunting. AKC and sportsmen groups expressed concerns that the broad wording could impact humane, legitimate hunting, field trial, and similar events. The bill passed the House this weekend with amendments to remove the word “hunting”, and to further clarify that the bill does not include “lawful dog training or dog performance competitions.” The bill awaits committee assignment in the Senate.
In the first week of March, AKC and the Responsible Dog Owners of Maryland (RDO-MD) hosted a Canines at the Capitol event in Annapolis, attended by hundreds of legislators and staff. Scheduled in the days surrounding this event, AKC GR met with dozens of legislators and staff. AKC GR was pleased to establish relationships with Maryland legislators and educate them on canine legislation, the AKC, and the positive impact of clubs in the state.
AKC Government Relations and the Responsible Dog Owners of Maryland will continue to closely monitor Maryland legislation and provide updates as they are available. For more information, contact email@example.com.