The 2018 Oregon Legislature adjourned March 3 after passing two bills affecting animals. The legislature meets every year in Salem to consider changes in state laws, but only for a maximum of 35 days in even-numbered years. The so-called "short" sessions have fewer major policy proposals, but this year's included the following bills affecting animals.
Good Ideas That Became Law
Poaching Penalties Fix
House Bill 4030 makes clear that a court can order someone who poaches wildlife to pay fines up to the amounts set in a law passed in 2016. The 2016 law substantially increased amounts the Department of Fish and Wildlife can recover in civil lawsuits for damages caused by poaching - for example, up to $50,000 for a mountain sheep, mountain goat or moose; $1,000 for a sturgeon over a certain size; etc. Legislators thought those amounts would also be used to set the amounts defendants must pay as part of criminal sentences for poaching (because the Department of Fish and Wildlife rarely brings civil cases for damages). However, some recent court cases have said the law was not clear enough on this point. House Bill 4030 should fix that problem and thereby increase the consequences for illegally killing Oregon's wildlife. It will also help raise money for the Department of Fish and Wildlife by requiring some or all of the fines to be paid to the Department. We submitted written testimony in support of this bill. It easily passed in the legislature and will become law if signed by Governor Kate Brown. Special thanks to Representative Ken Helm (Washington County) for continuing to lead the effort on this issue, and to our board member David Kracke, who co-authored the original version of the 2016 bill with Rep. Helm.
House Bill 4050 makes some technical improvements to the laws that make cockfighting a crime in Oregon. It also clarifies the laws prohibiting possession of an animal after a conviction for animal abuse or neglect. This bill was proposed at the request of the Oregon Humane Society, which helps enforce animal abuse and neglect laws in Oregon. This bill easily passed in the legislature and will become law if signed by Governor Kate Brown.
Good Ideas That Did Not Become Law
Rescue Dogs Only
House Bill 4045 would have required a "retail pet store" in Oregon to obtain all dogs it sells from shelters and rescues. We testified in favor of this bill when it was considered by a committee of the House of Representatives but the bill did not have enough support to advance in the legislative process. We hope to be involved in further discussions on this concept and possibly in proposing a similar bill in the future. Thanks to representatives Deborah Boone (Cannon Beach) and David Gomberg (Lincoln City) for sponsoring this bill.
Fish and Wildlife Funding
House Bill 4015 would have created a new "Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund" for use by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Money for the new account would have come from the state general fund, and possibly new federal sources, and could have been used for a variety of purposes include protection and conservation of wildlife. We testified in favor of this bill because we believe humane treatment of animals includes protection of wildlife and its habitat, which requires adequate funding for the Department. We also supported the bill as a way to make the Department less reliant on the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and therefore less likely to manage wildlife only for people who hunt and fish. This bill was passed by a committee of the House of Representatives but then stalled after being referred to a committee that must consider all new spending measures. Thanks to Representative Ken Helm (Washington County) for sponsoring this bill.
Other Bills That Did Not Become Law
Greenhouse Gas Bills
House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507 would have created programs for regulating greenhouse gas emissions tied to climate change. We support these efforts because climate change is harmful to animals as well as people - especially wildlife that is having its habitat harmed by increasing temperatures. However, the proposed programs would not have regulated emissions from factory farms, despite compelling evidence that they are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Both of these bills cleared one committee vote but then failed to advance further.
For further information on any of these bills, go here and find the bill number. You should also feel free to contact your legislators at any time about any of these bills. To find out who your state legislators are, go here. Thank you for supporting our work and helping us advocate for animals!