FL 2020 ANIMAL WELFARE BILLS - NEED-TO-KNOW END OF SESSION UPDATES
FAAWO identified the following legislative issues under consideration by the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in 2020. We appreciate your members joining us in either supporting or opposing the following bills, and we urge you to contact your state elected officials and thank them for passing reasonable animal welfare legislation this session and stopping harmful bills from passing. If you’re not sure who represents you at the state level, you can look up your elected officials here.
SUPPORT - SB 1082 /HB 241 FL Domestic Violence Injunction - clarifies that petitioners requesting court-ordered protection from domestic violence may receive temporary possession and care of a family pet; may order the respondent to stay away from the pet; and may forbid the respondent from taking or harming the pet.—UPDATE: Passed the Legislature & awaits the Governor’s signature!
SUPPORT - HB 685 / SB 980 Lost, Stray Dogs & Cats - Requires animal welfare organizations who accept lost animals to adopt policies & procedures to achieve goals to maximize live outcomes while keeping a balance with public safety. The bill refers to The Best Practices for Humane Care and High Live Release Programming that FAAWO and FACA published last year. Most importantly this bill would allow trained shelter technicians to implant microchips for shelter animals, a practice that veterinarians had declared a “Surgical procedure” years ago. UPDATE: DIED IN COMMITTEE
This bill was penned by the Florida Animal Control Association and has support from HSUS and ASPCA.
OPPOSE - HB 1237 / SB 1698 Puppy Mill Preemption – Called a Regulation of Pet Stores, the bill would require pet stores to be licensed; it would limit sources; it would provide for inspection and audit and authorize disciplinary and civil action. So looks wonderful on the surface but is designed to undo the over 70 local laws throughout the state already in place that prohibit or seriously limit the retail sale of animals. It would also prevent any future ordinances from passing that would prohibit or regulate the sale of pets. UPDATE: DIED IN COMMITTEE WITHOUT A HEARING
This bill is one of HSUS priority bills this year and is supported by ASPCA. Attaching a copy of the bill's text and a little screenshot of HSUS talking points.
SUPPORT- HB 363 / SB 186 Pet Leasing
Pet leases are performed in pet stores and often the buyer doesn't even realize what they are getting themselves into. Legal ownership of the pet during the lease is in question. What if the pet becomes deathly ill? What if the owner cannot complete their payments? Pet leases are a way for pet stores to charge exorbitant amounts for puppy mill dogs.
This bill is a high priority for ASPCA. UPDATE: DIED IN COMMITTEE
SUPPORT - S 752 / H 705 Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets
Emergency Sheltering for Persons with Pets Bill
Sponsored by Representative Sam Killebrew and Senator Aaron Bean
The bill was initiated by the Department of Emergency Management- Director Jared Moskowitz, previously Representative Moskowitz, is a long time and well-known friend to the animals.
In 2006 the federal Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act) was signed into law requiring state and local emergency preparedness plans to accommodate household pets and service animals in the event of an emergency or disaster. For local and state agencies to be eligible for federal disaster funding from FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program, in their disaster plans they must adhere to the requirements outlined in the PETS Act.
This bill states a county that maintains any designated shelters to also designate a shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. Additionally shelters that can accommodate persons with pets must comply with the applicable disaster assistance policies and procedures of FEMA and with safety procedures regarding the sheltering of pets established in the shelter component of both local and state comprehensive emergency management plans.
This bill will take effect July 1, 2020.
SHARK FIN BILL
Sponsored by Representative Kristin Jacobs and Senator Travis Hutson
The House passed the Shark Fins bill, HB 401, that would prohibit the import of shark fins into FL. Exemptions include: any commercial fisherman who harvested sharks from a vessel holding a valid federal shark fishing permit on Jan 2020; wholesale dealer or processor holding valid federal shark dealer permit.
This measure would also require the FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to conduct a study on the potential economic impact to the shark fins associated with the prohibition of the import, export and sale of shark fins in FL to be completed by Dec 2021. The commission will look at possible negative economic impacts to the commercial industry and identify actions to offset these impacts. The commission shall also examine the potential impact on shark populations associated with the prohibition of the sale, import and export of fins in Florida. The commission shall report findings to the Governor, Senate President and the House Speaker. The bill, which was renamed the Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act, passed the legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature.
BLACK BEAR POACHING BILL
Sponsored by Representative David Smith and Senator Tom Wright
This bill increases the penalty for poaching and/or selling a black bear. It makes killing a black bear out of season a Level 3 (from a Level 2) with a minimum fine of $750 and jail time up to one year. It also increases the penalty for possessing for sale or selling a black bear to a level 4 with a maximum fine of $5,000 and 5 years in jail. This puts black bear poaching on the same level as illegal taking and possession of deer and wild turkey. This will take effect July 1, 2020.
WILDLIFE ACTIVITIES BILL
Sponsored by Representative Tommy Gregory and Senator Debbie Mayfield
This bill prohibits certain harassment of hunters, trappers and fishers on public lands, on certain privately owned lands and waters. It also allows the FFWC to designate additional free saltwater & freshwater fishing days. Finally it prohibits the sale of green iguanas and tegu lizards within the state of FL by adding to the list of prohibited species. If an individual holds a valid captive wildlife permit (Class 3) on Jan 1st 2020 and has inventory they may be grandfathered in to exhibit, breed and sell. But they may only sell to buyers outside of FL. And no new permits will be issued or transferred for green iguanas or tegu lizards. This bill will take effect July 1, 2020.