As the pet care industry has grown so, too, has related legislative action, particularly at the state level of government. IBPSA wants to make sure our membership stays on top of what could affect them, as well as offer our membership assistance in educating legislators on the facts of owning and operating a safe and prosperous pet care business. Often, legislation in one area can lead to a domino effect across states and countries. In this Legislative News Update, we’ve got legislative news that caught our eye and a survey reminder that will help us in our endeavor to provide legislative support to our IBPSA Members.
The Animal Policy Group’s latest legislative report (September 2, 2019) is available as a PDF via your IBPSA Member dashboard in the Legislative News Workspace. Here, you can also post and discuss legislative-related topics relative to your area.
Most legislative bodies across the U.S. have adjourned and are gearing up for the 2020 session. The following states, however, have year-round (or close to it) legislative sessions: California (9/13/19), Massachusetts (11/20/19), Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin (12/31/19), and New Jersey (1/20). These seven states are back from summer breaks, and we need to watch carefully.
New Jersey has several bills still pending, but most have stalled. Bijou’s bill (A3044) passed the assembly early this year, but has not moved since. Rhode Island’s H5297 subjects unlicensed animal care providers (including groomers) to inspection, but it died. NY has a few bills that are still alive, but none have crossed from their original chambers.
Illinois passed HB3390 requiring kennel operators to install a fire alarm monitoring system that triggers notification to local emergency responders when activated.
Connecticut HB7158 passed, changing the definition of kennel to exclude boarding in homes, by adding that kennels means places maintained for boarding or grooming more than three dogs or cats.
Massachusetts hears several bills next week on 9/10, in front of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. H812, H3603, and S510 require the Department of Agriculture to promulgate rules for “boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs, including home-based kennels and daycare facilities, including, but not limited to staff to dog ratios, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, insurance, and penalties for violation thereof.”
IBPSA Note: Session Reminder
Animal Policy Group’s founder and CEO, Mark Cushing, will present a session on “Legislation and Agency Challenges in the Pet Care Services Industry” at the Seventh Annual IBPSA Pet Care Services Educational Conference & Trade Show happening October 1-3, 2019, in Palm Springs, California. How do legislation and agency regulations impact you as a pet care services provider? As a business owner? What can you do when faced with unfavorable legislation or agency rules? Whether you’re a legislative “wonk” or if your knowledge is limited to Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”, this eye-opening and engaging session breaks down the legislative realities of working in the pet care services industry. Learn more about the session here.
The subject of non-competes recently came up in our private Facebook group which is why this caught our attention: “Webinar Recap! Enforcement of Non-Competes: Increasing Difficulty Depending on State.” Are you aware of your area’s current non-compete law? Is your non-compete even enforceable? Some states have already enacted changes to their laws and a few (Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island) have changes that will be effective January 2020.
In our last issue of Legislative News Update, we noted that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 from the current $7.25 by 2024. As expected, the bill was not taken up by the Senate and, for all intents and purposes, has died. Whether or not it is brought up again will most likely depend largely upon the results of the 2020 U.S. election.
In Canada, the B.C. Court of Appeal affirmed “the death sentence for a dog that bit and seriously injured a woman.” According to Canada Lawyer, it’s a decision “animal lawyers say could deny the court’s ability to save the lives of dogs designated as dangerous.” One quoted attorney said the decision “reverses the last 15 years of solid case law… that allowed dogs that may have caused injury but are otherwise great dogs and manageable with responsible dog owners, to be released back to them.”
No doubt an indicator of the rising status of pets as family members and increased attention on animal welfare, U.S. politicians are bringing animal-related legislation to the forefront. In August, presidential candidate Julián Castro rolled out a “detailed, wide-ranging plan for bolstering animal rights” and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois introduced the “Animal Welfare Enforcement Improvement Act,” federal legislation meant to “ensure the proper treatment of animals by commercial breeders, circuses, petting farms and others.” Conversely, however, current enforcement of existing federal animal welfare regulations is on the decline: “Data from (the USDA’s) animal welfare agency shows only 15 cases were opened in the first three quarters of the 2018 budget year. That’s compared to 205 cases in 2017 and 239 cases in the 2016. The agency also issued 193 warnings in most of 2018, compared to 523 and 1,320 in 2017 and 2016 respectively.”
Along those animal welfare lines, Harvard recently launched an animal law and policy clinic, “becoming the latest law school to offer a hands-on course in the rapidly growing area.” From the report by Bloomberg Law: “The clinic is part of the school’s animal law and policy program. Topics include litigation, legislation, policy, and administrative matters relating to issues affecting farmed animals, wildlife, animals in captivity, and threats posed by climate change.”
Yale also announced a new a new animal law program. The initiative, called the Law, Ethics & Animals Program (LEAP), will launch during he 2019–2020 academic year as an interdisciplinary “think and do tank.”
Last month, pet stores sued to block a Maryland law that will bar them from selling commercially bred dogs and cats. The federal lawsuit “challenges a ban set to take effect on January 1, 2020. Maryland is the second state, after California, to pass such restrictions on the sale of dogs and cats.”
California’s governor signed into law the Wildlife Protection Act of 2019. The new law makes California the first state to ban fur trapping. From the Los Angeles Times: “Trapped animals are strangled, shot or beaten to death, with care taken not to damage pelts before skinning them.” Opponents of the new law included the California Farm Bureau Federation, “which warned that the bill, if passed, could have significant economic consequences for the agriculture industry.” Under the new law, “using traps to catch gophers, house mice, rats, moles and voles would still be permitted.”