News from the State Capitols
Six state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in regular session. Two states are in special session, and eight states are accepting pre-filed bills for 2012. AKC GR has been tracking more than 1,100 state bills thus far in 2011. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit the 2011 Legislation Tracking page. This page, updated each weekday, provides the latest bill text, status, and Legislative Alerts posted by the AKC. For more information on any of the measures mentioned, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights of the state bills AKC GR is currently tracking:
California – Assembly Bill 1121 was vetoed by Governor Brown. The measure would have allowed cities and counties the option of issuing a puppy license for microchipped dogs under 4 months of age.
California – Senate Bill 702 was vetoed by Governor Brown. The bill would have required that animals adopted out or returned to an owner by an animal control agency, rescue group or humane society be microchipped.
Hawaii – Senate Bill 1522 SD2 HD1 establishes an ownership limit of 50 intact dogs of any age and requires licensing as a high-volume dog breeder for anyone who sells 25 or more puppies per year or owns 20 intact female dogs or 30 intact dogs of either sex over the age of 6 months. This bill also establishes extensive engineering requirements for licensees’ dog facilities and allows inspections of any areas in which dogs are kept, handled or transported with no exemptions for personal residences. Following approval by the legislature, the measure was referred for “sunrise review” by the state auditor’s office. AKC GR provided information and resources for consideration during the audit process. In October, the Office of the Auditor reported the measure was “problematic” and recommended that alternatives to breeder licensing be considered. Read AKC’s Legislative Alert for SB1522. Read the Office of the Auditor’s analysis.
Massachusetts – House Bill 562 would strengthen the Commonwealth’s dangerous dog laws in a number of ways, including allowing dogs declared “at risk” to have that designation removed if the dog does not exhibit the behavior again within two years. The legislation also would prevent municipalities from establishing breed-specific laws or programs. The AKC and its Massachusetts federation both support this measure. On May 11, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government held a public hearing on this bill. The bill is now pending a decision by an executive session of the committee. Read more about this legislation.
Massachusetts – House Bill 1023 would significantly change the definition of “kennel” to encompass “daytime only” facilities that have more than 12 dogs on the premises. This would include any facility used for training, dog shows, or trials. The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure conducted a public hearing on July 19, and amendments are expected. AKC GR has sent numerous communications to the committee and bill sponsor, alerted parent clubs and Massachusetts club officers, and continues to work with the Massachusetts federation and the bill’s sponsor to address concerns with this measure. Read more about this legislation
Massachusetts – House Bill 1455 would make numerous changes to animal control laws, including establishing intact animal permits for all owners of intact dogs and providing recommended penalties that include sterilization or euthanasia for common nuisance violations. The bill would also allow municipalities to ban or regulate specific breeds and require localities that do so to establish a 3-person board “to identify and determine the breed of dogs.” On May 11, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government held a public hearing on this bill. The bill is now pending a decision by an executive session of the committee. Read more about this legislation.
Massachusetts – House Bill 2054 would prohibit insurance companies from refusing to issue or renew, cancel, or charge an increased rate for homeowners’ insurance based on the breed of dog owned by the policy holder. Both the American Kennel Club and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners support HB 2054. The bill was heard by the Joint Committee on Financial Services on September 13. Read more about this legislation.
Click here to read more about several other pieces of canine legislation under consideration in Massachusetts.
Michigan – Senate Bill 574 would establish a state consumer protection law that would apply to all pet shops and pet dealers (defined as anyone who buys or sells dogs or cats for compensation). The law would also apply to anyone who breeds dogs or cats, engages in the sales of dogs or cats to the public for profit, or sells more than one litter or at least two dogs or cats over the age of 6 months per year. Under the bill, a dog or cat may be deemed unfit for purchase if within 30 days after purchase a veterinarian states in writing that the animal has a contagious or infectious illness that existed at the time of purchase or if within 90 days the veterinarian states the animal has died or is ill because of a hereditary defect. The purchaser may request a full refund, exchange the animal for one of equal value if one is available, or receive reimbursement for veterinary fees up to the purchase price of the animal. A substitute bill passed the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform that amended the bill, including, according to the legislative analysis, changing the time for the veterinarian’s declaration of contagious illness from 30 days to 10 days. The bill is now pending in the Senate Committee of the Whole. AKC GR and its Michigan federations are closely monitoring this legislation.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 3559/Senate Bill 1506 would prohibit insurance companies from denying homeowner coverage based on the ownership of a specific breed of dog. The bills do permit a company to include a clause excluding liability coverage for a dog or specific breed. It also allows insurance companies to develop guidelines or a rating system to establish rates and premiums for coverage of certain breeds. A. 3559 has been assigned to the Assembly Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee. S.1506 was referred to Senate Commerce.
New Jersey – Assembly Bill 4096/Senate Bill 2923 establishes an optional pilot program concerning sterilization of cats and dogs released for adoption from various facilities and updates the law concerning procedures to be followed when an animal is subject to impoundment. The Senate approved changes requested in Governor Christie’s conditional veto, and the new law will becomes effective in February 2012.
New York – Assembly Bill 259/Senate Bill 3806 would amend the laws regarding the care of animals that have been seized and are being cared for during animal cruelty hearings. A. 259 has passed the Assembly and been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. Its companion, S. 3806, has passed the Senate Finance Committee and is pending in the Rules Committee. The AKC has written letters, most recently to the Senate Finance Committee, requesting that the bill be amended to allow for reimbursement for animal owners found “not guilty.” Read AKC’s letter to the Senate Finance Committee.
New York – Assembly Bill 3507 prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing premiums based on a specific dog breed. It does allow the insurer to deny coverage or increase premiums if the dog has been classified as “dangerous,” based on the current definition in statute. AKC GR and its New York federation are supporting this bill, which has passed the Assembly Insurance Committee and is pending in the Codes Committee. Read more about this legislation.
New York – Assembly Bill 3595 would prevent senior citizens from being denied occupancy or evicted from a multiple-unit dwelling because they own a pet. The bill also recognizes the benefits of pet ownership and allows landlords to create regulations such as leash laws in public places, removal of animal waste, and other health and safety rules. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Housing Committee. Read the AKC’s Legislative Alert and learn how you can help support this bill.
New York – Assembly Bill 8146 seeks to create an “Animal Breeding Permit” for everyone who breeds a female dog for pay or other compensation. The permit would allow for the whelping of one litter per female in a twelve-month period. It is unclear what the requirements would be for whelping more than one litter. The bill also calls for inspections of all licensees. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Agriculture Committee. No hearings have been held on this bill, and to date none have been scheduled. The AKC is closely monitoring this legislation and has sent a letter of concern to the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
New York – Senate Bill 946 revises the definition of “property” in the state’s penal code to include pets. It also expands the penalty of grand larceny in the fourth degree to include pet theft. AKC sent a letter of support for this measure, which passed the Senate and is now pending in the Assembly Codes Committee.
Ohio – House Bill 14 as introduced would remove the term "pit bull" from the state's definition of "vicious dog." The term "pit bull" is not defined in current law, but owners of dogs considered to be of this breed must comply with numerous requirements. The bill passed the Ohio Criminal Justice Committee with numerous amendments to clarify the difference between dangerous and vicious dogs, and to add a classification for "nuisance dog." HB 14 overwhelmingly passed the House on June 28 and is now pending in the Senate. AKC GR is supportive of the bill in general and is working with the sponsor to make some clarifying amendments. Read more about this legislation.
Ohio – Senate Bill 130 seeks to regulate “high volume” dog breeding in Ohio, defined as those who produce at least 9 litters of puppies and sell 60 or more dogs in a calendar year. The bill is very similar to Senate Bill 95 from 2010, which, in its final version, included a number of changes requested by the AKC, but still contained several provisions of concern. These include a definition of “kennel” that could be interpreted to mean any owner of an intact dog as well as problematic standards for “high volume breeders.” Numerous hearings have been conducted by the Senate Agriculture, Environment & Natural Resources Committee, but no vote has yet been taken. AKC GR has submitted numerous letters of concern and a request for amendments, and continues to work with its Ohio federation to address concerns with this bill. Read more about this legislation and how to contact the committee.
Pennsylvania – Senate Bill 27 would make several changes to the state’s consumer protection laws. Among other provisions, it would change the timeline from 10 days to 14 days from the time of sale for a dog to be determined to be clinically ill or to have died from an illness that renders it “unfit for purchase,” and from 30 days to 90 days for a dog to have a congenital or hereditary defect. The bill also clarifies that a dog may not be found “unfit for purchase” if it has intestinal or external parasites (unless the dog is seriously ill or dies), it has an injury or illness likely contracted after the purchase, or if it has a health problem that is disclosed by the seller in writing prior to the sale. SB 27 unanimously passed the Senate and is now pending in the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Texas – The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has until March 31, 2012 to draft new dog breeder regulations that will accompany the implementation of HB 1451, the breeder regulation bill that passed during the 2011 legislative session. The Advisory Committee has been formed and had their initial meeting, primarily to train members. There are two breeder representatives on the board, but because the statute requires that they be "licensed breeders," they will not be able to vote. The committee's next meeting is December 7, 2011 in Austin, TX. Affected breeders will have until September 1, 2012 to come into compliance with the regulations and obtain a license. AKC GR will provide updates and information about the draft regulations as they become available.
Wisconsin – Representative Don Pridemore is gathering support for LRB 1798/2, a measure that would change the state’s definition of “dog breeder” from someone who sells 25 puppies per year to someone who sells 50 puppies per year. Numerous hobby breeders and fanciers have expressed concerns about the low threshold in current law; particularly since the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has clarified the threshold does include co-ownerships. AKC GR has sent a letter to the Wisconsin Legislature supporting the definition change. The legislature is in recess and it is uncertain if it will meet again before January 2012. Read the Legislative Alert for more information on this proposed bill.