Crossing the Finish Line Strong: 2023 End-of-Session Humane Agenda Report

Dog running with a stick
Image Credit: danielsfotowelt on Pixabay

The 2023 Maryland General Assembly convened its first fully in – person session since March of 2020. With several key committee leadership changes, many newly – elected legislators, and a new Governor, there was strong momentum to pass legislation, including six bills on our Humane Agenda.

Maryland Votes for Animals was proud to work with our partners including The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), The Maryland State Bar Association Animal Law Section (MSBA), The Professional Animal Workers Association of Maryland (PAWS), numerous advocates, and legislators to pass the following bills:

Headed to the Governor’s desk:

Funding Human Relevant Research SB560/HB626 (Senator Guzzone, Delegate Cullison) – First in the nation, this bill establishes the Human Relevant Research Fund, modeled after the Stem Cell Fund, where entities that conduct research on animals will be charged a fee on animals used for testing. The proceeds from this Fund would be used for grants to expand human relevant research and develop alternatives to animal testing.

Evictions – Protections for Pet Owners SB279/HB102 (Senator Waldstreicher, Delegate Stein) – This bill establishes procedures to protect pets and creates a process to ensure that pet owners are informed about their rights and responsibilities regarding their pets in the event of an eviction.

Wildlife Advisory Commission SB320/HB188 (Senator Brooks, Delegate Palakovich Carr) – This bill sets requirements for the membership of Maryland’s Wildlife Advisory Commission to include biologists, conservationists, and recreational users as well as hunters to make balanced decisions regarding hunting, trapping, and fishing.

Trapping Reforms SB275/HB406 (Senator Bailey, Delegate Love) – This bill provides accountability for trappers by requiring that all traps are tagged with the license number of the trapper who set it and ensures that the department of Natural Resources is utilizing its Wildlife Crime Stoppers hotline to prevent trapping incidents.

Black Bear Conflict Prevention SB310/HB378 (Senator West, Delegate Love) – This bill protects bears by updating the State’s Black Bear Damage Reimbursement Fund to become a proactive tool to prevent bear conflicts and is open to residents and towns as well as farmers.

Veterinary Shortage SB390/HB325 (Senator Lewis Young, Delegate Terrasa) – This bill creates a certification process to allow trained individuals to give rabies vaccines in shelters and rescues and create an expedited process for allow out-of-state veterinarians to become licensed in Maryland

Additional Bills that We Supported:

Service Dogs Human Relations – Housing Discrimination -SB 525/HB 608 – Prohibits discriminating in the sale or rental of a dwelling to a disabled person who has a service dog or retains a former service dog after its retirement.

Office of the Attorney General Natural Resources Unit SB611/HB874 – Establishes an Environmental and Natural Resources Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to investigate and prosecute violations of State criminal environmental and natural resources laws.

Hunting, Wildlife Conservation, and Outdoor Recreation SB327/HB611 – Establishes the Wildlife Conservation, Education, and Outreach Program within DNR. It increases hunting license, stamp, and permit fees, with some of those proceeds to be used for The Black Bear Damage Prevention and Reimbursement Fund as well as other conservation activities.

Bills That We Successfully Opposed:

Hunting – Tundra Swans HB954

Dorchester County Hunting Fur- Bearing Mammals HB1119

Bills that that will be back in 2024:

SB495 – Prohibiting the use of animal testing where it is not required and ensuring stronger welfare standards until all testing has come to an end.

HB690 – Banning confinement of egg-laying hens in cages so small they can’t spread their wings.

HB 1192 – Creating a process to deal with animal cruelty by a minor.

SB937/HB365 – Increasing funding for Maryland’s successful spay/neuter grant program. (While this bill to permanently increase the funding did not pass, the Maryland General Assembly added an additional $200,000 of funding for the program this year.)

SB72/SB1039 – Advancing solutions to address the shortage of affordable housing that allows families dealing with housing insecurity to keep their pets.

We could not have accomplished these monumental victories without your grassroots support. Your calls, emails, and visits to your legislators sent a powerful message: Animal issues matter to voters! DONATE and make a difference today! Maryland Votes For Animals, Inc. is committed to making Maryland a safer place for animals through political action and humane legislation. Your contribution will provide critical support for our mission and ensure that your voice for animals is heard in the Maryland General Assembly!

We have no paid staff so every dollar that you give goes directly towards our work for animals.