Earlier this week, AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) provided an action alert on two Massachusetts bills of major concern, House Bill 1080 and Senate Bill 1155, in preparation for their committee hearing next week. Since then, additional bills have been scheduled for consideration next week.
On Monday, October 16, the Joint Judiciary Committee will consider two dog-related bills at 1PM in Room A-2 of the State House in Boston (24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133):
• House Bill 3024 will make it an unlawful practice for local or state administrative, legislative or regulatory bodies or instrumentalities to engage in discriminatory land use practices. The definition of “discriminatory land use practice” specifically includes taking any action…the purpose or effect of which would make unavailable or deny housing accommodations for families or individuals…because a person possesses a trained guide dog as a consequence of blindness, hearing impairment, or other handicap.
The AKC supports H.3024.
• Senate Bill 912 seeks to protect access for service animal trainers and employees or volunteers with service animal training organizations by specifically protecting the rights of those engaged in the raising or training of a service dog, including hearing, guide, or assistance dogs, to any and all accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of all public conveyances, public amusements and places of public accommodation within the Commonwealth. The bill also creates fines for those who violate these provisions.
The AKC and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) both support S.912.
Massachusetts residents are encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Judiciary Committee and express support of both H.3024 and S.912. Their contact information may be viewed at https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J19.
On Tuesday, October 17, the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government is scheduled to consider eight dog-related bills at 1PM in Room 222 of the State House in Boston.
• AKC and MassFed both strongly oppose H.1080 and S.1155, and urge you to share your concerns with your lawmakers. Click here to read AKC’s action alert on these bills.
• Carried over from previous sessions, House Bill 1078 seeks to create specific requirements for commercial breeder kennels, including local licensure and annual license renewals. Under this bill, the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources or an animal control officer may, or cause a veterinarian to, inspect a commercial breeder kennel at any time. They may issue corrective orders for lacking care and quarantine the premises and animals when infectious diseases are present. H.1078 also empowers the Commissioner to create standards of care for commercial breeder kennels, at a minimum to include appropriate living space, shelter, nutrition, and sanitary conditions.
• House Bill 1079 would increase the fines for cruelty to animals, with the increases designated toward a special account in the municipality where the violation occurred. Those monies must be used solely for funding improvements to the local municipality’s animal shelter; or, if the municipality does not have an animal shelter, to be used at the municipality’s discretion, providing it benefits local groups dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and/or the promotion of the adoption of shelter animals.
• House Bill 1084 is similar to, but has more reasonable provisions than, H.1080/S.1155. It shares those bill’s consumer protection provisions. It also provides for, but does not mandate, kennel inspections, and improves current law by providing for written citations or notices explaining noncompliant issues and for a time period for the kennel to come into compliance. This bill would also empower the Department of Agricultural Resources to create rules for commercial and personal kennels, but provides that such standards would apply to those kennels with 10 or more sexually intact female dogs or cats between 1-8 years of age for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring as household pets (Under H.1080/S.1155, kennels would qualify if they have only five or more sexually intact female dogs or cat of any age).
• House Bill 2419 and its companion, Senate Bill 1159 feature many provisions, including increases in fines for violations of dog control laws and licensing and sales requirements. These bills also feature a provision that restricts insurance companies that offer homeowners or renters insurance coverage from refusing to issue or renew, cancel or charge or impose an increased premium rate based in whole or in part on the breed of dog kept on the insured premises.
• House Bill 3212 seeks to create consumer protections for those who purchase dogs from pet stores, mandates extensive shelter record keeping requirements, and prohibits local pet store sales bans.
Massachusetts residents are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and express opposition to H.1080/S.1155 and any concerns they may have with any of the other dog-related bills mentioned above. The committee’s contact information may be viewed at https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J10.
Also on Tuesday, October 17, the Joint Financial Services Committee will consider three dog-related bills. Their meeting is scheduled for 10:30AM in Room A-2 at the State House in Boston.
• Senate Bill 533 and House Bill 554 seek to protect Massachusetts dog owners by restricting insurance companies from offering homeowners insurance or renters insurance covered from refusing to issue, renew, cancel, or change or impose an increased premium or rate of such policy based in whole or in part upon the harboring of any specific breed or breeds of dog. Such restrictions would not apply in cases involving dogs designated as dangerous based on current law.
• Senate Bill 589 will create state oversight of and requirements for pet insurance. If enacted, it will require an insurer to disclose policy exclusions for preexisting conditions, hereditary disorders, congenital anomalies, or chronic conditions. Insurers would also be required to disclose coverage limits and increases based on potential claim history. The S.559 also specifically provides that insurers shall not exclude coverage for breed-specific conditions.
Massachusetts residents are encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Financial Services Committee and urge support of S.533 and its companion bill, H.554. Their contact information may be viewed at https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J11.
AKC GR will continue to provide additional information on pending Massachusetts legislation. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.