July 2023 Pet Advocacy Network Pulse Newsletter
In This Issue:
- Stay Informed: Explore Our Mid-Year Report
- FWC/TAG Update: Protecting the Pet Trade in Florida and Beyond
Stay Informed: Explore Our Mid-Year Report
So far in 2023, the Pet Advocacy Network government affairs team has tracked or engaged on over 851 issues across the country. Below are highlights of some of the legislation we worked with lawmakers, members and allies on during the first half of the year:
- Overall, the number of pet-related legislative introductions has increased, up 11 percent from where we were at this time last year. We have seen a large uptick in local level bills, with 36 local ordinances filed – a 74 percent increase year over year. Nationwide, we actively monitored and engaged on 467 bills.
- In Florida, House Bill 7063, an act that will help Floridians keep their pets safe and healthy during natural disasters, was enacted on April 12, making pet food and supplies exempt from state sales and use tax. This act includes certain pet care supplies necessary for the evacuation of household pets including both wet and dry food, medicine, portable carriers or kennels, leashes and muzzles, collapsible or travel sized food or water bowls, cat litter pans and litter, hamster or rabbit substrate and other items. We supported this critical legislation as an important way to help owners provide for their family pet(s) when making their evacuation plans. It went into effect on July 1, 2023, and from August 26, to September 8, 2023, Floridians will be able to benefit from this act when purchasing disaster preparedness supplies for their pets.
- In Illinois, we worked with legislators to pass House Bill 1049, an act that takes great strides forward in combating breed specific legislation. It prohibits insurance companies from denying approval or renewal of homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies based on owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds. It also prohibits carriers from limiting or reducing coverage, or imposing an increased premium, based on the breed of dog owned. The bill was enacted on June 6, 2023, and takes effect on December 6, 2023.
- Pet sale bans continue to be introduced across the country. We are working with our members and allies to engage with lawmakers to oppose them, advocating for standards of care that will have a real effect on animal health and well-being rather than serving only to punish law-abiding small business pet stores and the breeders they work with. So far in 2023, our work helped defeat statewide pet sale bans in Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Connecticut. We are actively opposing two current proposed bans in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
- At the local level, we have seen a pattern of retail pet sale bans being pushed at the city and county level when a statewide ban fails. Our work helped convince local officials to reject proposed bans in Colorado City (Colorado), Lafayette City (Colorado) and Berkeley City (Michigan), and to repeal a countywide ban in Manatee County, Florida. Both Colorado bans would have negatively impacted the small local businesses within city limits. We are working with these local lawmakers to provide information on how to effectively protect the health and safety of the animals in their community while preserving pet choice.
- In Texas we had another notable victory with House Bill 2127, that will help prevent enacting local ordinances that ban the retail sale of pets. It establishes state pre-emption of certain municipal and county regulations, prohibiting a municipality from adopting, enforcing or maintaining an ordinance or rule that restricts, regulates, limits or otherwise impedes a business involving the breeding, care, treatment or sale of animals or animal products if the person operating the business holds a federal or state-issued license. It was enacted on June 14, 2023, and goes into effect on September 1, 2023. This bill is an example of the kind of legislation that we would like to see introduced in other states in the next legislative session.
- In Arkansas we supported the Arkansas Retail Pet Store Act that restricts local governments from passing any ordinance, resolution or regulation that would prohibit a retail pet store from acquiring or selling an animal from a cattery, kennel, or qualified dealer under federal regulation. It was enacted on April 12, 2023, and takes effect on July 11, 2023. Like the pre-emption bill in Texas, this is model legislation that we hope to work with other states to pass.
If you would like to know about pending legislation in your state, go to our State and Federal Issues section for an interactive state tracker that can be filtered by state and by issue, as well as our local ordinance map. You may also contact us at [email protected] or 202-452-1525 to connect with the staff expert in charge of your state.
FWC/TAG Update: Protecting the Pet Trade in Florida and Beyond
In April, we shared an update on our participation as a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Technical Assistance Group (TAG), as well the two proposed rule changes that would have at best, created a whitelist of permissible species, and at worst, would have completely devastated the pet sector in Florida and caused a damaging ripple effect across the country.
Since then, we took part in the April TAG meeting (held at the end of the month), where we expressed concerns to the FWC staff about the whitelist approach that proposed a lengthy and cumbersome process that would have made it nearly impossible for many species to be brought into the state in the first place. We also questioned the process by which the two proposed rules were developed.
Expanding our outreach efforts, we then initiated a call to action to the broad pet care community, and you stepped up in a big way. Thousands got involved in our “Pets Not Threats” campaign, directly contacting the lawmakers and signing petitions that made it clear to the Commissioners that this was not the approach that was best for Florida or for responsible pet keeping.
In May, the FWC staff presented the proposed rule changes at the Commissioner’s meeting, despite our stated reservations and the many letters and petitions sent to the Commissioners as part of our campaign. Pet Advocacy Network staff and many TAG members showed up in force to give testimony opposing both options.
Our efforts to stop the proposals from being adopted were successful, and the Commissioners decided against voting in favor of either option during the meeting. They instead opted to return to the drawing board, gather additional information, and continue working with the experts they assembled.
The TAG then reconvened on June 21-22, in Tampa, Florida. The newly appointed executive director of the FWC, Colonel Roger Young, introduced himself as the Commissioner-appointed lead in reassessing Florida’s invasive species policy. FWC staff presented a draft regulatory framework of a seven-tier system for permitted nonnative species that worked from the current tier structure and not from either of the two initially proposed rule changes that were ultimately rejected at the May meeting.
The meeting also focused on refining a draft risk determination process, prioritizing species for risk assessment, and exploring approaches to stricter regulation. FWC staff said that they plan to present a full package to the Commission ideally by Spring 2024, which would give the TAG and FWC a full year to work towards a collaborative solution that protects Florida’s unique ecosystem while also keeping the pet sector involved and considered.
We will continue to participate in the TAG to ensure the expertise and priorities of the responsible pet care community are represented in the development of new regulations.
Contact Senior Director of Government Affairs Alyssa Miller-Hurley or Director of Government Affairs Ashley Brinkman to learn more details and find out how you can get involved in our work on this issue in Florida.