MI Animal Policy — January Update
Much like Michigan’s weather in January, this past month has been a bit gloomy in the State’s capitol. No new major bills were introduced that would impact animals, veterinarians, or public health; however, there were some significant updates to previously updated bills. This includes a further explanation in the need to end pet leasing, where the vetoed “deer baiting” bill is headed, and a push from the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association and members to move forward a bill to allow discussions around CBD between veterinarians and pet owners.
Significant Bill Updates:
HB 4687, which would overturn a DNR ban on deer baiting to slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease and Bovine Tuberculosis, has been returned to the House from the Governor’s desk with a veto stamp. It was not voted upon at that time by either house, which would have required 2/3 majority from each to override the Governor’s veto and instead was referred back to the Committee on Government Operations.
When SB 666, banning pet leasing in Michigan, was introduced, this practice and the problems associated with it were unknown to me. To garner more clarification of the topic, I reached out to the bill sponsors in each house and after hearing from Representative Sowerby in the last update, Senator Rosemary Bayer replied with her take on the problem and reasons for implementing change. She stated clearly that the purpose of SB 666 is to ban predatory lending through pet stores. Pet stores use lending companies that pass along payments to a debt collector almost as soon as the transaction is processed. After this, pet owners are told they not only have monthly payments but also a balloon payment at the end of the lease which can be up to $4000. This can put many families who have chosen to go the pet lending route due to financial constraints into an even worse financial situation which ultimately can lead to poor care or relinquishment of the animal.
This is a good time to also remind readers that with a little bit of patience, most breeds can be found at animal shelters, even as purebreds. They may not always be available, but given time, many purebreds circulate through shelters and rescues. Shelters and rescues are also typically the most affordable way to purchase a pet, with adoption fees around $100-$200. This can especially be affordable during adoption events, such as Bissel’s “Empty The Shelter” events when adoption fees are typically waved. Please consider adopting through a not-for-profit group or municipal shelter when exploring other options.
A committee hearing was held on January 15th to discuss HB 5085, a bill to allow veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis and CBD with clients. Two veterinarians testified at this hearing in support of the bill along with the support of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association. Their testimony hinged on the necessity of veterinarians being able to discuss safety issues with the use of such products in pets. Without protection conferred in this bill, veterinarians in Michigan are unable to, legally, warn clients about the potential dangers to using cannabis or CBD in pets. Although the bill was not immediately voted out of committee, it appeared to be well received and is hoped to move to the House floor soon.
This bill also now had a bill summary released which shows that it would have no fiscal impact on state or local governments.
At this same committee meeting, HB 5239, creating an equine checkoff program for Michigan, was also discussed. Here, another veterinarian testified on behalf of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association as being against this bill. As discussed in previous updates, this bill would add a $3 fee to all Coggins tests (Equine Infectious Anemia) given by veterinarians. Many equine veterinarians feel this is an undue burden upon them, only adds to client fees, and would not likely have a significant impact on Michigan’s equine industry. This bill was also not voted on after the testimony.
Updates on bills included in the December Update
SB 666 and HB 5273 aiming to end the practice of pet leasing/loaning in Michigan have not moved.
HB 5239 creating an equine industry check-off program has not moved. It also has a new summary and fiscal analysis available which states that it is likely to increase administrative costs for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development although the exact cost cannot be determined at this time.
HB 5203 creating a Small Farm Coordinator has not moved.
HB 5085 allowing veterinarians to speak with clients about the use of CBD in pets has not moved; however, there is hope that this bill will find traction in late 2019/early 2020.
HB 5125 regulating the aerial spraying of pesticides has not moved. A bill analysis, background, and fiscal impact has been released. Indeed, this bill stemmed from Kalamazoo County’s choice to opt-out of aerial spraying this past fall and would extend their time to do so in the future from 48 hours to 5 days. This would have no significant fiscal impact on state or local government. Although this is the fiscal impact of the bill itself, reducing aerial spraying for disease when deemed necessary by The State could have significant negative financial impacts due to increased disease spread in the future.
HB 4910 and SB 610 defining an Emotional Support Animal and reducing falsification of such animals has not moved. A bill summary states that this bill should have no fiscal impact on state or local governments. SB 608 and SB 609 also alter how Emotional Support Animals are regarded and neither has moved.
HB 4911 is a tie-bar with 4910 to update language elsewhere in Michigan law to match new language in HB 4010 and has not moved.
HB 4496 regarding the adoption of dogs used for research purposes has not moved but has moved from the Committee on Regulatory Reform to the Committee on Agriculture.
HB 4941 which alters how long an animal is held during a criminal trial has not moved.
HB 4931 making a dog sitting on a driver’s lap while driving a misdemeanor has not moved.
HB 4860 expanding the authority of the Large Carnivore Act has not moved. A bill analysis and fiscal analysis has been released. It states that this bill is not expected to impact time spent by MDARD on large carnivore licensure and as only a single license has been granted to date, this bill should have no fiscal impact. This bill moved out of the House Agriculture Committee on party lines and has now been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means despite opposition from several zoological and animal groups.
HB 4833 regulating the transport of deer both inter- and intra-state has not moved.
SB 429 which would require reporting of suspected animal abuse by veterinarians was discussed above. This bill in its amended form has moved out of committee to the Senate floor. A fiscal analysis now shows that this bill would have no fiscal impact.
SB 352 mandating reporting of animal abuse or neglect by child protective services employees has moved out of committee and is now awaiting the Senate floor. SB 353 which would make false reporting by such employees a felony has not moved despite the activity of SB 352. The aforementioned analysis of this bill (352) states that it also would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased costs from the necessary training of employees to spot animal abuse and neglect at the Department of Health and Human Services.
SB 419 requiring state registration of animal rescues has not moved; an analysis of this bill has been released. Significant discussions have also been made between the bill’s sponsor and rescue groups making it likely that any future discussed bill will be edited from its original form.
HB 4687 and SB 37 allowing for deer baiting passed both the House and Senate and were promptly vetoed, but have been referred back to the Committee on Government Operations.
SB 174, an amendment of the Animal Industry Act, has become law.
SB 316 regarding animals for fighting has been moved out of committee but not yet taken under consideration by the Senate. A bill analysis states that this bill would have a negative fiscal impact due to increased resource demands on law enforcement.
HB 4592 which would allow animal advocates in court has not moved.
HB 4593 regarding canine vocalization has not moved.
HB 4594 regarding the ownership of non-human primates has not moved.
HB 4595 regarding carrier pigeon regulations has not moved.
HB 4596 regarding community cat programs has not moved.
HB 4610 regarding community vaccination has not moved.
House Bills 4659, 4603, 4604, 4606, 4607, 4608, and 4609 have not moved. Of note, a bill was passed in New York with similar language as that of HB 4659, requiring information about Lyme Disease to be posted in state parks. Additionally, a fiscal analysis is now included with this set of bills.
HB 4092 regarding leaving pets in cars has not moved.
SB 63 regarding income tax deductions for service animals has not been moved.
HB 4035 regarding the prohibition of breed-specific legislation has unfortunately not moved.
HB 4217, SB 254, SB 248 have all been amended, however, the veterinary exemption has remained intact in all forms. Bills in both the Senate and House have independently passed their respective houses and await agreement between the houses to move forward.
HB 4455 designating the shelter pet as the state pet has not moved.