The 2015 Session of the Maryland General Assembly adjourned at midnight on April 13th, and will reconvene on January 13, 2016. While the legislature failed to pass any animal protection bills this session, we will not be discouraged in our determination to get action on animal protection legislation that will stop cruelty.
The humane treatment of animals is vitally important to Marylanders!
There were 57 bills listed this session as animal related, including 13 wildlife bills, 5 farm-animal bills, 17 domestic animal bills, plus 22 other bills mentioning animals and requiring review. MVFA tracked all animal bills filed and advocated on many. Several animal protection bills received unfavorable reports in committee and others did not receive a vote before the cross-over deadline. NONE PASSED. We anticipate several will be reintroduced in 2016 and we are following them closely.
Please take a moment to thank the legislators who stood up for animals and sponsored or voted for key animal protection bills. If your legislator did not vote for animal protection, politely let them know your disappointment.
When legislators know their constituents are paying attention to their voting record, they’re more likely to vote in accordance with what their voters want.
Each year we’ll let you know how legislators vote on key bills, and at election time we prepare a comprehensive scorecard so you can see how your legislators voted on key animal bills.
Maryland currently is ranked nationally in the bottom-tier for animal protection – 39th out of the 50 states – in the 2014 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report here.
In 2015, the majority of domestic animal bills sought to address important animal cruelty and enforcement issues including the cruel chaining of dogs and the use of dogs and cats in research facilities. The majority of wildlife bills attempted to expand hunting into Sunday contrary to Maryland’s 300 year tradition of protecting one weekend day for families to enjoy the outdoors during hunting season. The majority of farm-animal bills sought to address animal health and human safety issues and regulate the use of drugs and antibiotics in farm animals and the slaughter of horses intended for human consumption.
Key animal bills this session included:
Dogs in Extreme Weather (HB 153/SB 26) – Sponsors: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Ronald Young. MVFA provided strong support on these separate bills which would protect dogs from cruel and inhumane chaining and limit the amount of time they can be chained outside in extreme weather conditions. This bill is critical to protect dogs suffering on chains and to enable Animal Control agencies to enforce existing cruelty laws. These separate bills did not pass the House or the Senate Committees. Click here to see the votes (a “nay” vote is a good vote on these bills because the votes were on an unfavorable motion):
Costs of Care for Abused Animals (HB362/SB393) – Sponsors: Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Jeff Waldstreicher. MVFA provided strong support on this bill which would place the financial burden of caring for abused animals on those who abuse animals, instead of the taxpayers. One of the greatest obstacles to enforcing animal cruelty laws in Maryland is the cost of caring for animals while cruelty charges are prosecuted. This bill is critical to enforcement of existing cruelty laws. This bill made it further this year than past years, but was heavily amended in the House and Senate committees. One of the major differences was the House version did not include restitution in misdemeanor cases, yet the vast majority of animal cruelty cases in Maryland are tried as misdemeanors. The conference committee did not reach a compromise before the end of session. Click below to see the progress of this bill:
Dogs and Cats in Research Facilities (HB443/HB567) – Sponsor: Del. Benjamin Kramer. MVFA provided strong support on these bills which would regulate research facilities that use dogs and cats in experiments and research. These bills are critical to protecting cats and dogs and helping ensure more humane treatment of the animals used in these facilities. These bills did not pass the House Judiciary Committee. Click here to see the votes (a “nay” vote is a good vote on these bills because the votes were on an unfavorable motion):
Sunday Hunting in Public Parks and Lands (SB117/HB285) – MVFA opposed this bill which was successfully defeated. This bill would have expanded hunting into public parks and lands on Sundays in certain counties. If passed, this bill would have established a precedent for other counties across Maryland and denied public input on a statewide public policy issue. The defeat of this bill was critical to safeguard Maryland’s 300 year tradition of protecting parks and lands for families on Sundays during hunting season. This bill was successfully defeated in Senate Committee after passing the House. Click here to see the votes (a “nay” vote on this bill is a good vote):
Additional animal bills voted on this session (click on the highlighted bill number to get more info on a bill):
Ban on Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn (HB 713) –Sponsor: Del. Luedtke. This bill bans the sale of ivory and rhino horn except for educational or scientific purposes. The bill was given an unfavorable report by the House Judiciary Committee.
Companion Animal Welfare Act (HB 645) – The puppy mill bill prohibits the sale of dogs and cats by pet stores and prohibits the sale of dogs and cats in public places like parking lots, swap meets and flea markets. The bill was given an unfavorable report by the Economic Matters Committee and was withdrawn by the sponsor after it did not reach a compromise.
Sales of Dogs and Cats – Required Health Certificate (HB 403)- Requires individuals who sell a dog or cat to provide the purchaser with a health certificate issued by a veterinarian and is designed to provide protections for consumers against people who “flip” companion animals, which is when individuals adopt or receive a dog under false pretenses and then resell the pet. The bill was given an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee.
Antibiotic and Antimicrobial Drug Usage in Food-Producing Animals (SB 470/HB 1075 and SB 463/HB 701) – Prohibits nontherapeutic use of antimicrobial and antibiotic drugs on farm animals. SB 470 was given an unfavorable report by the committee and was withdrawn by the sponsor. As a result, the hearing for HB 1075 was cancelled. SB 463 was voted favorable with amendments by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. On second reading before the full chamber, it was amended and then recommitted to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee but did not meet cross-over deadline.
Prohibition on Leaving Dogs Outside and Unattended (HB 956) – Prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside and unattended for more than 2 hours in a 24 hour period and puts additional limits on the type of restraint used for tethering. HB 956 was given an unfavorable report by the House Judiciary Committee.
Horse Slaughter Bill (HB 151) – This bill prohibits a person from buying, selling, transporting, or offering or receiving for sale or transportation any equine, equine carcass or the meat of any horse intended for human consumption. The bill was given an unfavorable report by the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Baltimore County Sunday Hunting (HB 18/ SB 378): Would expand hunting to include Sundays in Baltimore County. The House legislation had a hearing in the Baltimore County House Delegation on January 30, was voted unfavorably by the delegation and then withdrawn by the sponsor.
K-9 Law Enforcement Officers Act (HB 505) – Requires law enforcement agencies to reimburse veterinary expenses to individuals who adopt retired K-9 dogs previously used by law enforcement. The bill was amended in the House Judiciary Committee to add lifetime limits. It was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Income Tax Credit – Cat and Dog Adoption (SB 267/HB 418)- Allows a person who adopts a cat or dog from an animal shelter or a rescue facility a credit of $100 against State income tax. HB 418 was given an unfavorable report by the House Ways and Means Committee. SB 267 was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Allegany County Animal Shelter Adoption and Care Center (HB 320/SB 253) – Authorizes a grant for the Allegany County Animal Shelter Adoption and Care Center. HB 320 was given an unfavorable report by the House Appropriations Committee.
Wondering how YOU can make a difference protecting Maryland animals?
Step 1. Get on the MVFA Animal Action List
Make sure you, your friends, family, and co-workers get on the Animal Action list. You can put animal protection on the map by helping increase the number of people who provide a voice for Maryland’s voiceless! We send you an alert when something needs to be done, you choose whether to do it.
Step 2. Find out how your legislators voted and send a quick, polite email.
Make sure you know who represents you in Annapolis. Thank the legislators who stood up for animals this session and for their vote for animal protection. And no matter how they voted, be sure to let your legislators know how important animal protection is to you. When legislators know their constituents are paying attention to their voting record, they’re more likely to vote in accord with what their constituents want.
Step 3 – Donate today to keep this important work moving forward and growing stronger.
Please donate today! We count on you to help us make sure humane legislators are elected who will champion humane legislation, and to make sure the General Assembly is held accountable for its actions.