We are entering the part of the legislative session when things get a little bit crazy! In just the last few days, committees have voted on a TON of animal related bills – bills are either going to start to move quickly . . . or not at all.
Several other bills have started moving, including a bill to tighten up restrictions on roadside zoos. And the dog bite liability compromise is coming down the home stretch! See the “Action Items” section below for critical calls to action for this week. Some important votes are coming up!!
As always, a big thank you to Tami Santelli for providing the extensive updates.
***Priority items for the next week***
- Dog Bite Liability – Call your delegates! This will be receiving a vote on the floor of the House this week, and it has already passed the Senate so this is the last critical votes! Urge your delegates to “pass HB 73 as amended by the House Judiciary Committee, with no additional amendments” (More details are below!). Then send a follow up email. They will begin debate on this issue TOMORROW!
- Roadside Zoos – Call your senator! This bill will be up for a vote in the full Senate TOMORROW! Then send a follow up email
BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:
- Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). This legislation removes strict liability for landlords and other third parties, and puts in place a “rebuttable presumption” for dog owners, regardless of the breed of their dog – and, as amended, it also establishes strict liability for injuries caused by a dog running at large. You can read the amended language here. The House Judiciary Committee just voted on HB 73 and made the same change that was made in the senate – it will be on the floor of the House TOMORROW! You can take action HERE. We are getting close!!!
- 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 received a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and will receive a vote in the full Senate THIS WEEK. Please call your state senator and urge 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 the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate 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. This received an unfavorable report from theSenate Judicial Proceedings Committee and is likely dead for the year. This does not mean the committee was against this concept – they are trying to limit the number of task force bills that are passed during an election year, since legislators will be busy campaigning and won’t have a lot of time to spend on legislation during the interim.
- 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. This bill received a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and will be on the floor of the Senate for a vote on TUESDAY!
- Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667). This bill bans debarking or surgically silencing dogs or cats. This bill received a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and will be on the floor of the Senate for a vote on TUESDAY!
- 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 on March 18th at 1pm.
- 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. This concept has been incorporated into the compromise legislation (SB 247/HB 73) and the standalone bill received an unfavorable report from 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.
- 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. This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.
- 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 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. This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.
- Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523): Increases penalties for violations for the state dangerous dog law. This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.
- 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 the House 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 WEDNESDAY 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 CommitteeTOMORROW 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 votes in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and the House Environmental Affairs Committee.
- 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 theHouse 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 Sundayof bow hunting season, and HB 890 would remove the county specific Sunday hunting provisions and allow DNR to establishSunday 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.
- 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