Things are really starting to move in Annapolis as committees wrap up some of their hearings and start to vote on bills. As seen below, several bills have failed (or been withdrawn) since the last update, and some big votes may be coming up in the next week or so. Over the next couple of weeks are some critical deadlines, including “crossover”—the date by which bills have to pass the chamber in which they were introduced—so we’ll have a much better sense about what has a chance of moving forward . . . and what’s dead for the year. Please see updates below, including a time sensitive action item for Maryland dogs.
***Priority items for the next week, based on where things are in the process, hearing dates, upcoming votes, etc.***
- Dog Bite Liability – If one of your delegates is on the House Judiciary Committee, call and urge them to“conform HB 73 to the Senate version (SB 247) and pass without any additional amendments” (More details are below!). Then send a follow up email. They could vote as early as Friday!!
BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:
- Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). These bills remove strict liability for landlords and other third parties, and put in place a “rebuttable presumption” for dog owners, regardless of the breed of their dog – and, as amended by the Senate, SB 247 also establishes strict liability for injuries caused by a dog running at large. You can read the amended language here. This new language is language that has been previously passed by the House, so we are hopeful they will accept the changes and quickly pass the bill. TheHouse Judiciary Committee could vote as early as Friday. You can take actionHERE.
- Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124). As amended by the sponsors, this legislation would put in place basic requirements for facilities that keep especially dangerous wild animals (big cats, bears and primates). Amendments have been offered after much negotiation with some of Maryland’s smaller zoos and this is a modest step forward in ensuring these animals are only kept by qualified, professional facilities. It is awaiting votes in the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. If your legislators are on these committees, call them and ask for their support! Then send a follow up email.
- Costs of Care (SB 149/HB 93). This legislation will allow judges to order people convicted of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial. It is awaiting votes in theHouse Judiciary Committee and theSenate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
- Cost of Care Task Force (SB 513/HB 795). This bill sets up a task force to study the fiscal impact of animal cruelty cases on local animal control agencies, in hopes of crafting legislation to reduce the burden. It is awaiting votes in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and House Judiciary Committee.
- Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665). This legislation bans ear cropping, tail docking, removal of dewclaws and C-sections of dogs unless done by a veterinarian under anesthesia. It is awaiting votes in theSenate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
- Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667). This bill bans debarking or surgically silencing dogs or cats. It is awaiting votes in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
- Dogs and Cats in Research (SB 862/HB 1347). This bill requires research facilities in MD that use dogs and cats to be licensed by the Vet Board and inspected quarterly, prohibits the facility from using dogs from Class B dealers, random sourced dogs or dogs that have been devocalized, requires facilities to reduce the numbers of dogs and cats used to the extent possible and to attempt to adopt out dogs and cats that are no longer needed, and requires dogs and cats to be humanely euthanized if not adopted. This bill had hearings last week and was giving an unfavorable report by the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee – it is likely dead for the year.
- School Reporting – Animal Cruelty(HB 222). This bill adds felony animal cruelty to the list of offenses that must be reported to school officials by law enforcement. This bill has passed the House and has a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee onMarch 18th at 1pm.
- Animal Cruelty – Court Costs (SB 682). This bill imposed an additional $45 fine on people convicted of animal-related crimes, to be used to support the county animal shelter – but it has been withdrawn by the sponsor.
- Tax Credit – Adopted Police Dogs(HB 1357). Establishes an income tax credit for qualified veterinary expenses incurred by state or local police officers who adopt a police dog. It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.
- Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358). Establishes an income tax credit for people who adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter. It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Other dog bite related legislation:
- Dog Bite Liability (HB 80): This bill would establish strict liability for dog owners in situations where the dog was running at large – similar language was just amended onto SB 247 on the senate floor. It is likely that this concept will be incorporated into the compromise legislation. HB 80 is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
- Dog Bite Liability (SB 286): This bill has been introduced by Sen. Zirkin and would establish strict liability for all dog owners, prohibit insurance discrimination and impose a $45 fine on all “animal-related crimes” that would go into a fund to support county animal shelters. Strict liability legislation has failed in the House twice so it seems unlikely this will get traction, but wanted to pass it along. It is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and may still be scheduled for a hearing in theSenate Finance Committee.
- Dog Bite Liability – Insurance (SB 285): This bill prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to someone because they own a dog (regardless of the breed of dog) and prohibits insurers from excluding coverage for dog bites. It was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee and is dead for the year.
- Dog Bite Liability – Third Parties (HB 563). This bill deals with the liability imposed on landlords and other third parties by the Court of Appeals ruling on “pit bulls,” and returns landlords to liability standard in place before that case. It is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
- Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (SB 991/HB 422): This bill prohibits a dog from being deemed dangerous based on breed, prohibits local breed specific laws, and prohibits landlords or homeowners associations from banning specific types of dogs or evicting someone because they have a particular type of dog. It had a hearing last Thursday and is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 991 is still in the Senate Rules Committee because it was late-filed.
- Dangerous Dogs (HB 371): Del. Glenn has introduced this bill for several years and is a comprehensive upgrade to the state dangerous dog law. We have suggested some amendments to Del. Glenn and it is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
- Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523): Increases penalties for violations for the state dangerous dog law. It is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
- Dog Bite Reporting – Rabies (HB 1204): Requires the owner of a dog who bites someone to provide the injured person with proof of rabies vaccination. It is awaiting a vote in theHouse Environmental Matters Committee.
- Dog Licensing (HB 66): This bill would require counties to require dog licensing. It was given an unfavorable report by the House Environmental Matters Committee and is dead for the year.
Other animal related legislation:
- Animal Abuser Registry (HB 373). This bill requires people convicted of animal cruelty to register with local law enforcement, including address, place of employment, information about the conviction, photograph and fingerprints. It was given an unfavorable report by the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.
- Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912). Establishes a centralized database of convicted animal abusers and an animal abuse registry fund, requires information in the registry to be available to the public, provides for an appeal process, prohibits animal shelters, pet stores and breeders from selling or adopting an animal to someone listed on the registry. This bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
- Feral Cats (SB 1010/HB 1473). This bill clarifies that the animal abandonment statute does not apply to a feral cat caretaker, and prohibits local jurisdictions from banning TNR or declaring feral cats a nuisance, potentially dangerous, or dangerous solely because they are unowned. SB 1010 has come out of the Rules committee and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 12th at 1pm. Because HB 1473 was filed after the bill introduction deadline, it has been assigned to the House Rules Committee. If it comes out of Rules, it will be assigned to a standing committee and will be scheduled for a hearing.
- Horse Slaughter (HB 1392). This bill prohibits buying, selling or transporting horsemeat for human consumption or horses for slaughter for human consumption. It has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Matters Committee onMarch 11th at 1pm.
- Baltimore County Shelter (HB 1474). This is also a late-filed bill that would require Baltimore County animal control to make it a priority to adopt unclaimed dogs or cats and establish a volunteer program. It has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.
Hunting related legislation:
- Montgomery County Safety Zone(SB 309/HB 138): This bill originally would have reduced the “safety zone” for bowhunting in Montgomery County from 150 yards to 50 yards, but was amended by the Montgomery County delegation to 100 yards instead. It is awaiting a vote in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and has a hearing in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on FRIDAY at 1pm.
- St. Mary’s Safety Zone (HB 1133): This is a similar bill that would reduce the safety zone in St. Mary’s for bowhunting to 100 yards. It is awaiting a vote in the House Environmental Affairs Committee.
- County Sunday Hunting Bills. There are several bills expanding Sunday hunting in various counties. They are all assigned to the House Environmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. If you are interested, here is more information on the bills impacting Anne Arundel (HB 197/SB 191), Western Maryland (SB 472, SB 473/HB 406, HB 432), Calvert (HB 759) and Harford (HB 672).
- Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 &HB 890). HB 671 would authorize bow hunting of deer on private property on any Sunday of bow hunting season, and HB 890 would remove the county specific Sunday hunting provisions and allow DNR to establish Sunday hunting throughout the entire deer hunting season. Counties that prohibit Sunday hunting are exempt. Both bills are waiting for votes in the House Environmental Affairs Committee.
- Deer Baiting (HB 860). This bill prohibits feeding or baiting deer except for hunting or population control activities authorized by DNR. This bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
- 3/7 – Montgomery County safety zone (HB 138) House Environmental Matters Committee
- 3/11 – horse slaughter (HB 1392)House Environmental Matters Committee
- 3/12 – feral cats (SB 1010) (Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee)
- 3/18 – school reporting/animal cruelty (HB 222) Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee