Maryland General Assembly Convenes Facing COVID Challenges on January 13, 2021 

pitbull puppy
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Maryland Votes for Animals 2021 Legislative Preview

The Maryland General Assembly continues to face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maryland Constitution requires that the legislators be present in the chamber to conduct voting sessions. However, in order to protect the public, legislators, and staff, committee hearings will be virtual. Legislation will still be heard in committee with testimony from advocates. Your voice is more important than ever! Legislators will closely monitoring feedback from their constituents, especially during a period where contact will be virtual. Maryland Votes for Animals will continue to be a strong voice on legislation to promote animal welfare in Maryland. In addition to our Action Alerts, stay tuned for our virtual Week of Action in early February!

Our Priority Legislation:

Ban on Cosmetics Testing on Animals – This bill would prevent companies from selling cosmetics that have been newly tested on animals. This legislation was introduced late last session but did not have enough time to progress. A similar law has passed in California, Nevada, and lllinois. This bill passed the Senate 45-0 in 2020. Sponsored by Senator Clarence Lam and Delegate Terri Hill.

Ban on Wildlife Killing Contests – This bill would prohibit the random killing of mammals in wildlife killing contests, where the sole purpose of the event is to kill the largest number of animals possible, often for cash or guns. The bodies of these animals are usually left or discarded, leaving their young to starve. Similar legislation has passed in New Mexico and Vermont in 2018, and California in 2014. New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Arizona are considering bills to make these cruel contests illegal. This bill passed the House 106-27 in 2020.Sponsored by Delegate Dana Stein and Senator Ron Young.

Unattended Dogs in Extreme Weather – This bill specifies the weather conditions under which dogs must be provided with a suitable shelter as defined in the bill. Many states and counties in Maryland have already passed comparable ordinances.  This bill passed in the House 125-7 in 2020. Sponsored by Delegate Mary Lehman and Senator Ben Kramer.

Costs of Care – This bill provides relief to animal control agencies in Maryland that incur high costs when caring for animals seized in cruelty cases. It establishes a legal process for individuals whose animals have been seized to determine whether they want to maintain ownership of the animals and be responsible for those costs while their case is being decided. Sponsored by Delegate David Moon and Senator Justin Ready.

Business Regulation – Retail Pet Stores – No More Puppy and Kitten Mills Act of 2021 – This bill clarifies language and closes loopholes in the 2018 bill prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats in Maryland by retail establishments and brokers. A similar version to this bill passed the Senate 45-0 in 2020. Sponsored by Senator Ben Kramer.

Required Training of Animal Control and Humane Society Officers – This bill would add uniform training and continuing education requirements for animal control and humane society officers. Currently, there is no training requirement in Maryland. While most agencies that handle animal control offer training for their animal control officers, it is not mandatory and varies by county. This bill was heard in committee in 2020 but ran out of time when the session ended early. Sponsored by Senator Jeff Waldstreicher and Delegate Michael Chang.

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