(TX - US) Legisative UPDATE and Horse Slaughter INFO
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Snugglezzz at aol.com
Wed Jun 4 09:10:53 EDT 2003
Please find attached and cut and pasted in this email the following: 1) End of the 78th Legislative Session UPDATE, and 2) What's Next in the War Against Horse Slaughter. Feel free to cross post this information. Thank you.
Cile Holloway, President
Skip Trimble, Legislative Chair
Texas Humane Legislation Network
END OF 78TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Best Session to Date for Animals in Texas !
Although this legislative session has been the most difficult (filled with dozens of non-animal friendly bills), most time consuming, and most expensive session to date for the Network, we are thrilled to report its results should prove to be the most successful session for animal protection laws in Texas! Never in the history of this organization have we seen such coming together of people and organizations from all over Texas and the rest of the nation to work to promote animal protection! Please see the results of our combined efforts below:
Bills Successfully Passed
SB 572 (Companion bill HB 1115) This bill limits the acceptable methods of euthanizing dogs and cats in animal shelters to one of two universally recognized humane methods sodium pentobarbital injection and commercially compressed carbon monoxide. It also provides that all other animals be euthanized only by methods approved and recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association. In addition, it mandates that all shelter staff performing euthanasia be trained. Authored by Sen. Chris Harris of Fort Worth and Rep. Will Hartnett of Dallas.
HB1119 (Companion bill SB 1528) - This bill makes the seizure of cruelly treated animals much easier and less expensive for animal welfare/control agencies by 1) expanding the government officials who can apply for a seizure warrant to include all peace officers; 2) allowing magistrates to issue a seizure warrant; 3) requiring an owner found to have cruelly treated his animals to pay all costs associated with the case (court, investigation, witnesses, and housing and care of the animals); and 4) limiting the number of appeals. Authored by Rep. Toby Goodman of Arlington and Sen. Kim Brimer of Fort Worth.
(When this bill went over to the Senate, an unfriendly amendment was placed on the bill that would have repealed the Loco Law, a law passed two years ago that made aggravated acts of animal cruelty felony offenses versus class A misdemeanors. If we had not defeated the amendment, all aggravated acts of animal cruelty would have been reduced back to class A misdemeanors. )
Bills Successfully Defeated
SB 1086 (Companion bill HB 937) - If either of these bills had passed, animal impoundment facilities in 210 of 254 counties in Texas would have been exempt from the minimum humane standards for animal care and housing established by the Texas Department of Health. With defeat of this bill, ALL municipal and county impoundment facilities in Texas must comply with the TDH standards, giving shelter animals a decent place to go and be cared for prior to adoption or euthanasia. This bill would have negatively affected hundreds of thousands of animals each year! Authored by Rep. David Farabee of Wichita Falls and Sen. Todd Staples of Palestine
HB 1324 and the Horse Slaughter Amendment to SB 1413 This House bill and the House Amendment to SB 1413 would have decriminalized horse slaughter for human consumption in Texas. (Please see Whats Next in the War Against Horse Slaughter) Authored by Rep. Betty Brown of Kaufman the House Amendment was put on by Rick Hardcastle of Vernon.
HB 433 Known as the Animal Rights Ecological Terrorism Bill, this bill would have made a mockery of the constitutional rights to freedom of speech, association and assembly. If passed, this bill would have criminalized legitimate political and social protests, demonstrations, civil disobedience and debate by animal or environmental advocates. Authored by Rep. Ray Allen of Grand Prairie.
HB 1516 - An additional bill designed to defeat animal and environmental protection activists by increasing the punishment for any crime committed by a defendant who selected his victim because the defendant objected to the victims participation in an activity involving animals or natural resources. Authored by Rep. Ray Allen of Grand Prairie.
HB 2510 - This bill would have created a special crime for anyone interfering with an animal activity or an animal facility. Authored by Rick Hardcastle of Vernon.
Passage of HB 433, HB 1516, or HB 2510 would have set dangerous precedents for singling out any political or ideological group for special and enhanced punishment. Bills similar to these are being introduced in state legislatures throughout the country.
Bills Successfully Weakened
HB 151 - This bill which passed the House without our knowledge would have allowed anyone witnessing or having knowledge of a dog attacking livestock to kill the dog. In addition, it would require the owner of a dog suspected of killing livestock to kill the dog and if the owner failed to do so allow the Sheriff or Constable to enter the owners property and kill the dog. The bill would also allow anyone finding a dog suspected of killing livestock to capture the dog and hold the dog hostage until the owner paid all damage allegedly done by the dog. The bill would also allow anyone having livestock subject to the ravages of a dog to place poison on his property without any license or permit. We were able to remove all aspects of this bill except the part about killing a dog attacking livestock. This is already an exception to prosecution in the animal cruelty statute, so little, if anything, was accomplished by the passage of this bill. Authored by Rep. David Farabee of Wichita Falls and handled in the Senate by Senator Craig Estes of Wichita Falls where favorable concessions were made to us.
We will post our entire Legislative Chart, displaying the disposition of all the animal bills that the Network tracked during the legislative session within the week. Please watch for it.
WHATS NEXT IN THE WAR AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER
With our victory against horse slaughter in the Texas state legislature, the battle now moves to the Federal level. At the Federal level, we have two battles: one in the Federal court and one in the U.S. Congress.
The Federal Court Battle. As most of you know, shortly after the Texas Attorney General ruled that the two Texas horse slaughter plants were in violation of Chapter 149 of the Texas Agriculture Code, which makes it a criminal offense to sell horsemeat for human consumption, the plants filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Ft. Worth, Texas to stop the Tarrant and Kaufman County District Attorneys from prosecuting them. The basis for their suit was that the Federal law which protects interstate commerce overrides the Texas law outlawing the sale of horsemeat for human consumption. That lawsuit is still pending in the Federal court and there is little or nothing we, as members of the general public, can do but await the Federal judges decision. According to the Tarrant County District Attorneys office that decision should come sometime toward the end of the year. Until then the Tarrant and Kaufman County District Attorneys have been ordered by the Federal court to not prosecute the horse slaughter plants. Thus, we are simply in a waiting game. We have every reason to believe that we will be successful in the court battle but only time will tell.
Also, please note it would be counterproductive to write the Federal judge or the District Attorney. Ann Diamond, the Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney is fighting for our cause as hard as anyone can and we feel like we are being very well represented by her in this case. Shes on our side, she is dedicated, smart, and hard working. Calls and letters to her will only be a distraction. Further, the Federal judge will not be persuaded by public opinion since he is appointed for life and has sworn to uphold the law. His job is not to make law but interpret it. Thus, the Federal case is strictly a legal matter and public input is not appropriate. Please do not write or otherwise contact the Federal judge or the District Attorney. We will follow the case closely and post updates as they occur.
The United States Congress Battle. Following our important and hard fought victory to maintain the Texas law prohibiting horse slaughter, our efforts must now turn to passing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 857) currently before the US Congress. This bill is the only way to totally ensure horse slaughter is stopped in the US and our horses aren't shipped elsewhere to meet the same fate, because even with the Texas victory and a Federal court victory these slaughter plants can simply move to another state or to Mexico.
HR 857 prohibits the transport of horses across state lines and international borders for the purpose of slaughter and also prohibits the sale or transport of horsemeat for human consumption. If passed, HR 857 will put an end once and for all to the slaughter of American horses both in the U.S. and in foreign countries.
Please call, fax or write your US Congressman and urge them to cosponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 857). Let them know how recent efforts to legalize horse slaughter in Texas met with overwhelming opposition from the public. Tell them about the survey conducted last month that showed that 72% of Texans oppose horse slaughter.
To locate your member of Congress and their contact information along with FAQ's, statements of support, a copy of the bill and current cosponsors, the Texas survey and much more about horse slaughter, please visit www.saplonline.org or www.ddal.org. Remember, the only way to stop the slaughter of American horses is by passing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 857) currently before the US Congress.
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