Just 10 more days in the 2014 Maryland legislative session but there is one more major hearing left next week on anti-BSL legislation, with one more call-to-action. See details below!
And just a reminder about the process for several of these bills which have passed their chamber of origin (i.e. bills introduced in the House have passed the House, and bills introduced in the Senate have passed the Senate). Even if identical bills have passed the House and the Senate, we still need at least one of them to pass BOTH chambers. That is the last step before bills can be sent to the Governor – and that’s what will (hopefully!) be happening next week for a bunch of animal bills. The General Assembly adjourns Monday, April 7th at midnight.
As always, thank you to Tami Santelli for providing the updates.
***Priority items for the next week***
- Prohibiting Breed Discrimination – Please call your state senator and ask for his/her support of HB 422, and then use this link to send a follow up email. And consider coming to the hearing on TUESDAY at 1pm in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee! We need to show strong support for this bill, and it only has a week to pass the Senate!
BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:
- Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). SB 247 has passed the Senate, HB 73 has passed the House, and HB 73 has passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee! This bill is almost done – HB 73 just needs to pass the Senate, which hopefully will happen early next week. SB 247 is still waiting for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. You can read the amended language here. Getting so close!
- Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124). SB 827 has passed the Senate and HB 1124 has passed the House! As amended by the committees, this legislation would put in place basic requirements for facilities that keep especially dangerous wild animals (big cats, bears and primates).
- Costs of Care (SB 149/HB 93). HB 93 has passed the House, and just passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last night! This legislation will allow judges to order people convicted of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial. It was substantially amended by the House Judiciary Committee so that reimbursement would be capped at $15,000 and would only be available in felony animal cruelty cases – but those amendments were removed by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, so now the differences will have to be reconciled. You can read the amended version here. It will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate next week!
- Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665). SB 659 has passed the Senate and HB 665 has passed the House! This legislation bans ear cropping, tail docking, removal of dewclaws and C-sections of dogs unless done by a veterinarian under anesthesia. The Senate originally adopted an amendment allowing ear cropping, tail docking and the removal of dewclaws by a vet tech under the supervision of a veterinarian, but this change conflicts with existing law that doesn’t permit vet techs to do these procedures. We worked with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to address this problem this week and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee just passed HB 665 (without the vet tech language) last night. Fingers crossed!
- Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667). SB 660 has passed the Senate and HB 667 has passed the House! This bill bans debarking or surgically silencing dogs or cats. The House and Senate originally adopted slightly different versions, but the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee accepted the House version last night.
- School Reporting – Animal Cruelty (HB 222). HB 222 has passed the House! This bill adds felony animal cruelty to the list of offenses that must be reported to school officials by law enforcement. It is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
- 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. This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.
- 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. This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.
Other dog bite related legislation:
- Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (HB 422): As amended, this bill would prohibit a dog from being deemed dangerous based solely on breed and would prohibit counties and municipalities from adopting breed specific laws in the future (but would not overturn existing BSL). Even with these changes, this would represent a statewide anti-BSL policy, and that would be a huge step forward for Maryland! HB 422 was just scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committeeon TUESDAY, April 1st at 1pm. Please come if you can, and see the action item above. J
- 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. This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.
Other animal related legislation:
- 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. This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.
- 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 had a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last week and is awaiting a vote. HB 1473 was filed late and is still in the House Rules Committee. This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.
- Horse Slaughter (HB 1392). This bill prohibits buying, selling or transporting horsemeat for human consumption or horses for slaughter for human consumption. It received an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee and is dead for the year.
- 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. This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.
Hunting related legislation:
- Montgomery County Safety Zone (SB 309/HB 138): HB 138 has passed the House and SB 309 has passed the Senate. As amended, this bill would reduce the “safety zone” for bowhunting in Montgomery County from 150 yards to 100 yards. SB 309 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on April 2nd at 1pm.
- St. Mary’s Safety Zone (HB 1133): HB 1133 has passed the House. This is a similar bill that would reduce the safety zone in St. Mary’s for bowhunting to 100 yards.
- County Sunday Hunting Bills. There are several bills expandingSunday 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 Sundayhunting provisions and allow DNR to establish Sunday hunting throughout the entire deer hunting season. Counties that prohibitSunday hunting are exempt. Both bills are waiting for votes in the House Environmental Affairs Committee. These bills have missed the crossover deadline so they are unlikely to move for this year.