Virginia General Assembly vs. Humane Society


    Thanks to NLS for alerting me to a bad situation in the Virginia General Assembly. A bad situation, that is, if you agree with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that laws against animal abuse and cruelty should be strengthened not weakened. Thus, the HSUS has urged Virginia lawmakers to OPPOSE HB 2482 (“seeks to prevent humane officers from seizing animals being neglected and instead mandates that these animals be left in the care of those who neglected them”) and to OPPOSE S.B. 1026/H.B. 1541 (“has been introduced with the support of agriculture special interest groups with the intent of removing farm animals from the cruelty code. It could negatively impact countless farm animals, including horses.”). Here’s the current status of the bills in question:

    *SB 1026 passed the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee by a 13-2 vote, with only Donald McEachin and Chap Petersen voting “nay.”

    *HB 1541 actually passed the House of Delegates by a 98-0 vote, apparently on an “uncontested” bloc. WTF?

    *HB 2482, which the HSUS urged be OPPOSED, was indeed “laid on the table” (aka, killed), in the House Subcommittee on agriculture.

    That’s good news, apparently, on HB 2482, which as Waldo Jaquith points out on Richmond Sunlight, “On the Richmond SPCA’s blog, they argue that {HB 2482} would undo twenty years of progress for abused animals.”

    As for S.B. 1026/H.B. 1541, this seems to be yet another case of our part-time, citizen-legislators not having a clue what they’re even voting on in a session that is extremely short (by the standards of most states in this country, let alone one the size of Virginia) and crammed with hundreds of bills to consider on every subject under the sun. As I discussed the other day, this is an issue that keeps coming up in my conversations with Virginia General Assembly members. In short, the concern is that legislators have no time to really know what’s going on or to understand the bills members are voting on, but that people who do understand are the lobbyists, who spend all their time, year ’round, on their specific issue(s). Which is exactly why, in a case like this, legislators should – at the minimum – pay attention to what respected groups like the HSUS are saying about their relevant issue(s). Of course, if the legislation’s labeled as “uncontested,” it will most likely just slip through without scrutiny, usually on unanimous votes. In the case of S.B. 1026/H.B. 1541, that appears to be exactly what’s happened. Not good at all, certainly not for the animals but also not for what it says about our legislature here in Virginia.


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