UPDATED MARCH 16, 2011
There is barely one month left in the 2011 Maryland legislative session. We have reported and will continue to report in more detail on racing and Sunday hunting bills in separate blog posts. Here is a quick summary of other bills that if they were to pass, could affect the equestrian community. (If you have heard about or know of a bill that we have not yet covered, please let us know at email@example.com.)
Abuse or Neglect of Animals: Denying Future Ownership
Maybe we have Michael Vick to thank for bills HB 227 & SB 115, which would allow the courts to prohibit those convicted of neglect or cruelty from owning animals (either for a specific length of time or for the rest of their life, at the court’s discretion). We like this bill! And apparently, so do the legislators, as the House version passed unanimously on Thursday, March 10 and has crossed over to Judicial Proceedings in the Senate.
Domestic Violence and Cruelty Towards Pet and Service Animals
HB 407/SB 747 would allow the courts, in a temporary protective order or final protective order, to order a respondent to remain away from a specified pet or service animal, to refrain from cruelty or aggravated cruelty toward the pet or service animal, or in specified circumstances, to give the pet or service animal to a specified person; and to specify penalties for failure to comply with relief ordered. We like the concept of this bill, but why limit it to just pets or service animals? We would like to see the bill amended to include livestock, because as those of us in the horse/livestock industry know, abusers don’t limit their abuse to spouses, children, dogs and cats, but will also hurt horses, cows, lambs-anything that the human victim cares about. The House Bill appears to be stalled, but the Senate version received a favorable report from the Judicial Proceedings committee.
Allowing a Farrier To Trim!
Senate Bill 32 appears to be a simple housekeeping bill, as it would add trimming and maintaining horse hooves by a farrier or a specified person to the list of activities that are excluded from the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine. Currently, the law regarding the exemption of farriers from the Vet Practice Act reads as follows: “a farrier or a person actively engaged in the art or profession of horseshoeing as long as his actions are limited to the art of horseshoeing.” Well, to horse people, that would include trimming! But apparently not to someone who was attempting to follow the “letter of the law,” and who argued that a horse’s hooves did not need to be trimmed before they were shod. Uh-huh. Thus we have this bill, which will add “or trimming and maintaining horse hooves.” This bill passed unanimously on Feb. 10, crossed over to the House on Feb. 11, but there has been no movement since.
Lightening Up on Vet Techs
Not to be confused with SB 32, Senate Bill 322 is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. Currently, the Vet Practice Act includes a list of activities that registered vet techs may perform. Instead of listing specifically certain activities, the new language is broad and would allow a vet tech to do anything the supervising vet tells him or her to do. The bill passed, 45-1, on February 25 and has crossed to the House Environmental Matters committee.
Animal Abuse and Use of Rifle, Handgun, or Other Weapon
UPDATE 3/16/11: SB 425 and HB 294 seem to be odd little bills. Because the definition of animal in this bill is not limited to domestic animals (livestock and pets), it would appear that this is actually an antihunting bill-even though the bill specifically exempts the act of hunting, however, they are not anti-hunting, and in fact are sponsored by hunters.
Will Horse Trailers Require Separate Registration?
SB 497 would establish a new class of vehicles, Class G, for livestock trailers or “semitrailers” with a maximum gross weight of 5,000 pounds. This legislation would prohibit anyone with a Class G license from using said trailer for hire or for hauling anything other than livestock. Sen. Glassman introduced this bill to help farmers by lowering their fees (updated 3/16/11), but no action has yet been taken on the bill.
Critical Farms Preservation Fund and Program
HB 214 is a very interesting bill, as it would establish a very aggressive program to identify and preserve farms considered more critical than others to preserving ag land in Maryland. Apparently, the legislators like this bill as well, as the House passed it unanimously on March 4. It is now awaiting action in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.