Legislative Session 2011 A Mixed Bag for Florida’s Animals

Below is a final report on animal-related legislation during the 2011 Legislative Session, as well as links to how each member voted. Following up with your lawmakers on their vote is extremely helpful to animals—it lets your elected officials know that you are paying attention to how they represent you!

Legislative Session 2011: A Mixed Bag for Florida’s Animals:

Bestiality Bill Finally Passes Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Approval: A bill to prohibit bestiality in Florida SB 344 (Rich)/HB 125 (Kiar) unanimously passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s approval.

Florida’s Greyhounds Lose: The bill to remove minimum live race requirements for dog tracks (HB 1145 Young/SB 1594 Sachs) known as the “greyhound racing decoupling” bill, died in the final hours of Legislative Session. After passing 5 committees and both Chambers, the House and Senate refused to concur on the slightly different versions of the bill, and the measure died. Click here to see how your Senator voted, and click here to see how your Representative voted.

Racing greyhounds endure lives of confinement and suffer severe injuries. There are an estimated 8,000 racing greyhounds at any given time on Florida’s tracks. Based on the industry average, these dogs will be replaced every 18 months with more dogs. Many are adopted, but some are not. We will continue fighting until we end greyhound racing in Florida, and we need your help. Please contact your state lawmakers and ask them to pass this bill next year.

“Ag-Gag” Factory Farm Cover-Up Bill Dies: SB 1246 (Norman, R-Tampa), which would make it a crime to take a picture or video on a farm without the owner’s written consent, was withdrawn from its second and third committees before passing the Senate 25-10 (5 abstained). The bill did not have a House companion and died in House “messages.”

Even as amended, the bill would make criminals of anyone on a “farm” who takes a picture or produces a video of anything without the owner’s written consent. This bill would not only allow animal abuse to go unreported on factory farms and horse pastures, as well as other properties, but it would be detrimental to the environment as well as to public health and safety. Click here to see how your Senator voted and make sure to let your Senator know you oppose this measure. (Note: Senators Garcia, Hays, Montford, and Siplin supported the bill in the Agriculture committee as well.) Florida should prevent animal cruelty—not prevent the public from learning about it.

Bill To Give Ex-Fighting Dogs a Fighting Chance Passes Legislature: A bill to remove the automatic dangerous dog designation for dogs removed from fighting operations unanimously passed the Senate, and passed the House 99-17. Click here to see how your Representative voted. The bill now awaits approval by the Governor.

Animal Fighting Bill Dies, But Likely to Return Next Year: A bill to strengthen Florida’s animal fighting law by clarifying the prohibition on animal fighting paraphernalia and protecting agencies from frivolous lawsuits by animal fighters passed the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously. Unfortunately, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, the first committee of reference, didn’t hear the bill before the committee stopped meeting. This bill is expected to be filed again next year.

 

Spay/Neuter Bill Dies in Committee: The spay/neuter funding bill (HB 359/SB 676) didn’t receive a hearing in 2011. These bills would raise funding for spay/neuter surgeries at the local level by adding a civil penalty onto citations written for violations of local animal control and cruelty ordinances. We are grateful to the sponsors, Senator Nan Rich, D-Weston, and Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, for filing these bills, and hope these bills will succeed next year.

Bill to Protect Pets from Domestic Violence Dies in Committee: A bill that would include pets in domestic violence protective orders (SB 206 Fasano) died without a House companion. The bill may be re-introduced next year.

Legislature Adopts Shelter Pet Resolution:

On April 6, the Florida Legislature adopted a resolution declaring April 2011 Adopt-a-Shelter-Pet Month. The resolution was sponsored by Senator Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, and Representative Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach.

 

 

This wrap up was provided by the Humane Society of the United States.

 

Please contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel about their votes. It’s important to thank them for voting to support animal welfare, and also to let them know you disagree with their votes on bills that would harm animals. Polite, respectful calls to lawmakers are the most effective way to communicate your views (second only to a face-to-face meeting).  See big cat letters online that you can send now at CatLaws.com

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