South Carolina adjourned the first regular session of its two-year 2023-2024 legislative session on May 11. Governor Henry McMaster reconvened an “extra session” on May 16 to continue working on specific issues. It is not anticipated that dog/animal bills will be considered during this 2023 extra session.
Bills that affect dogs, animals, and their owners will carry over to next year’s session, which convenes on January 9, 2024. These include:
Opposed bills that carry over to 2024
House Bill 3682 and similar Senate Bill 456 seek to eliminate necessary protections under current law regarding the award of costs of care for a confiscated animal. H.3682 was minimally amended and passed in the House without opposition. The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources positively amended H.3682; however, several significant concerns remain with the bill. H 3682 remains pending a second vote in the Senate. View AKC’s most recent alert on S 456.
House Bill 3238, among other provisions, seeks to require a person, on a second conviction for animal cruelty offenses, to forfeit all animals and to not own an animal for up to five years, regardless of the nature or severity of the offense. The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports full enforcement of fair and reasonable animal cruelty laws and appropriate penalties for abusers; however, scope of H.3238 is overreaching. It is referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
Why this matters: Mandated penalties, mandated cost of care payments by owners of confiscated animals, mandated forfeitures, and other legislation that seek to direct a court to take certain actions without allowing for judicial discretion are problematic when coupled with overreaching laws. For example, it is an animal cruelty offense in South Carolina to dye or color artificially any animal or to bring any dyed or colored animal into the state, regardless of whether the animal actually suffers any harm. Having a dog with a dyed tail or driving through the state with one would be a qualifying offense under H.3682 and H.3238.
Supported bills that carry over to 2024
House Bill 3247, a bill supported by AKC, seeks to increase penalties for maltreating a police K9. It is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and carries over to 2024.
Contact your state lawmakers in their home districts
South Carolina residents are urged to meet with their state Senators and Representatives in their home districts after the extra session ends on May 31. Share with them your concerns about H.3682/S.456 and other overreaching bills. Ask your state Senators to oppose H.3682 if comes before them in 2024.
Along with these and other carry-over bills, expect new canine legislation to be introduced and/or amended in 2024. By working together, we can support good legislation and oppose bad bills, thereby protecting our rights to own, exhibit, breed, and enjoy the dogs we love.
If you are not receiving AKC’s legislative alerts by email, visit www.akcgr.org and scroll down to “Sign Up for Alerts. Learn more about key issues that affect dogs and view materials you can download and use in the AKC GR Toolbox.
For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.