After significant activity on the animal policy front in May, summer has slowed activity in Lansing with only a few newly introduced bills in June. These bills include a Senate version of the previously discussed deer baiting bill and a bill regarding required reporting of animal abuse by Child Protective Services employees. As the summer months are upon us, the legislature has also reduced its time in Lansing and are spending more time in their home districts. With reduced Lansing residence and significant obstacles between the Governor and legislative houses, expectations are low for significant movement of policy over the next month.
House Bill 4687 from Michele Hoitenga, a representative from the Cadillac area, is identical to SB 37 introduced in the Senate earlier this year. This bill would allow for deer and elk feeding and baiting for hunting purposes.
It should be noted again that this bill is in direct opposition to a policy instituted by the MI Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that banned such practices. This ban was put in place in order to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease. Given that animals with these diseases should not be eaten and the eventual decline to our states whitetail deer population they may cause, it is in the best interest of hunters to not support this bill. It is a short term viewpoint on a long term problem.
HB 4687 has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations.
SB 37 has not been moved out of committee; however, an updated fiscal analysis was released stating that there is no impact on state or local government. While this may be true in the short-term, hunting represents a significant industry in the state of Michigan. If CWD or tuberculosis was to spread and reduce either the deer population or a hunter’s ability to harvest deer, this could significantly reduce revenue from hunting licenses as well as economies related to the hunting industry such as outdoor retail stores.
Senate Bill 352 from Peter Lucido would add a new section of the Michigan Penal Code, (MCL 750.1 to 750.568) by adding section 50d. This addition would require an employee of child protective services (CPS) during the course of a child abuse/neglect investigation to report suspected animal abuse/neglect of an animal control or law enforcement officer immediately. It then provides civil and criminal protection for the employee including their anonymity.
The bill goes on to explain that criminal charges can be brought against a CPS employee who either files a false report or, importantly, an employee that does not file a report despite seeing suspected abuse/neglect.
Although this bill places potentially an undue burden upon CPS employees, such protections for those who do report abuse/neglect is very important. Animal abuse has been extensively shown to be a precursor to domestic violence and outward violence. Additionally, children who grow up in households where animal abuse is prevalent have a greater chance of committing crimes later in life. Identifying households with animal abuse/neglect may help law enforcement officers and the judicial system to make more informed decisions.
Senate Bill 353, also from Peter Lucido, would make false accusations of animal abuse a felony.
SB 352 and 353 have been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
Updates on bills included in the May Update
SB 174, an amendment of the Animal Industry Act, has been reviewed by the Senate Fiscal Agency which has put out a summary and fiscal analysis of the bill. It, however, has not moved.
SB 316 regarding animals for fighting has not moved.
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; however, a fiscal analysis has been released jointly for all of these bills. This analysis points out that HB 4603 may increase administrative costs of local health departments that have to field Lyme disease reports. Additionally, and most importantly, HB 4659 would increase costs of the DNR by more than $10,000 for implementation of required signage at campgrounds, parks, and trailheads. No other bills have significant fiscal impacts on state or local governments.
HB 4092 regarding Pets in Cars has not moved.
SB 63 regarding income tax deductions for service animals.
SB 37 regarding the baiting of deer for hunting has not moved.
HB 4035 regarding the prohibition of breed-specific legislation has not moved.
HB 4217 regarding electronic prescriptions to be used by human physicians have not moved; however, SB 254 which had identical language was slightly amended with no impact on the veterinary exemption and moved to the Committee of the Whole on June 18th. Another bill, SB 248, appears to be identical to this bill as well and was referred to the Committee of the Whole as well.
HB 4496 regarding the adoption of dogs used for research purposes has not moved.
HB 4455 designating the shelter pet as the state pet has not moved.