The Oregon Legislature ended its 2023 session June 25. Thanks to everyone who helped us participate in the proces this year with calls, emails and testimony! Although a boycott of Senate floor sessions stalled the session for weeks, several good bills for animals made it through the process. Some bills we opposed also made it through, but most bad bills were defeated. Read on for highlights and what you can still do to help animals in Oregon's legislative process. Stay tuned for our legislative scorecard showing how legislators voted on the bills affecting animals and whether they were helpful or not behind the scenes.
GOOD BILLS THAT PASSED
House Concurrent Resolution 8 makes rescued shelter dogs and cats Oregon's official state pet. Similar proposals bogged down in the past, and competed with proposals to name specific breeds as state dog, so we were happy to see this idea sail through the process early this year. We hope it will encourage more people to provide homes for the many dogs and cats in Oregon's animal shelters and rescues.
House Bill 3213 prohibits, with some exceptions, the sale in Oregon of cosmetics tested on animals, which is cruel and unnecessary for most cosmetics and ingredients.
House Bill 2915 will shrink the market for puppy mills by prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats at retail pet stores.
House Bill 3464 changes the classification of beavers under the wildlife laws - from a "predatory" species, even though they eat only plants - so they can be better protected on private property, including with permit requirements for killing them in most cases. This should encourage more tolerance and appreciation for beavers, which will be good for beavers and all the other wildlife and fish who thrive in the habitats that beavers help create with their dams.
House Bill 2904 will require Oregon Health Sciences University to provide more information on its website about its use of non-human primates for research and experiments. We hope this will lead to more transparency and better treatment of the animals.
Senate Bill 5506, the omnibus end-of-session funding bill nicknamed the "Christmas Tree Bill," includes $457,758 for an animal cruelty prosecutor in the Oregon Department of Justice for the next two years. Senate Bill 696 proposed essentially the same thing, but it stalled in a legislative committee with a variety of other funding bills. Previously, this position was funded by a nonprofit organization.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY BILLS THAT PASSED
Senate Bill 85 will increase regulatory review for new and expanding large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Among other things, it will require CAFOs to have a water supply plan and limit the amount of water new CAFOs can use for "stockwatering" without a permit. It will also require stricter individual permits in areas with contaminated groundwater and allow counties to impose requirements for setbacks from certain property uses that need to be protected. While a step in the right direction, the bill stopped well short of creating a factory farm moratorium, which we were seeking as part of the Stand Up to Factory Farms coalition.
House Bill 3086 provides for members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission to be selected by river basins instead of Congressional districts. We opposed this change as over-representing less-populated rural areas and resulting in management of fish and wildlife primarily for the benefit of hunting, fishing, trapping and agricultural landowners, instead of for the benefit of all Oregonians. The bill passed, but only after it was amended to require two members from each of the two most populated river basins, which improved the bill significantly.
House Bill 5002 and House Bill 5509, the budgets for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, again included funding for the federal "Wildlife Services" program in Oregon, which kills wildlife deemed a threat to private property, often with inhumane methods such as leghold traps and poisons, and without adequate effort to address human-wildlife conflict with nonlethal measures (fencing, flagging, lights, guard dogs, etc.). We opposed this funding. On the bright side, Senate Bill 5506, the omnibus end-of-session funding bill, did not include additional money for this as it has in the past. While the budget for Fish and Wildlife included a number of good things too, including funding for a "habitat division" that focuses on fish and wildlife broadly instead of just hunting and fishing, we were also disappointed that the budget failed to include a funding package recommended by the agency to focus on co-existence strategies to address human-wildlife conflict.
BAD BILLS DEFEATED
House Bill 2185 would have brought back special taxing districts to raise money for "predator control." The money would have gone, as it has in the past, to the federal "Wildlife Services" program, which kills wildlife deemed a threat to private property, often with inhumane methods such as leghold traps and poisons, and without adequate effort to address human-wildlife conflict by nonlethal means. This bill did not receive a hearing.
House Joint Resolution 5 would have asked voters to create a constitutional right to hunt, fish and trap, which could have limited future reforms designed to treat fish and wildlife more humanely. This measure received a hearing but did not advance after that.
Numerous bills, including House Bill 2559 and Senate Bill 472, proposed to overrule a 1995 ballot initiative that banned recreational hunting of cougars with packs of dogs. None of these bills received a hearing.
GOOD BILLS THAT DID NOT PASS
House Bill 3384 would have made aggravated animal neglect a felony and made it a crime to interfere with an investigation into a crime against an animal. This bill passed out of a House committee but died in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means along with many other bills that required state funding.
House Bill 3214 would have prohibited use of certain animals in traveling animal acts, which subject animals to extreme confinement, stressful travel and abusive trainings. This bill received a hearing but did not move forward after that.
House Bill 3390 would have prohibited the sale of fur, which subjects animals to extreme confinement and other mistreatment for unnecessary products. This bill did not receive a hearing.
House Bill 2698 would have established grant program for nonlethal approaches to deterring conflict between wildlife and agriculture. This bill did not receive a hearing.
House Bill 2655 would have created new regulations for fish farms, including humane slaughter requiements. This bill received a hearing but did not move forward after that.
For a more complete list of the bills animal-related bills we tracked this session, click here. To see the full text of a bill, along with its history, testimony and sponsorship information, click on the bill number in our list.
WHAT YOU CAN STILL DO
Although the 2023 legislative session is over, there are still things you can do to help advocate for animals. If you don't already know who your state legislators are, click here and enter your address to find out and get their contact information and website link (everyone has one Senator and one Representative). Sign up on their websites for their email updates, including notices of their open houses to talk to constituents. Go to the open houses if you can and ask about animal welfare issues - in general or specifically in relation to any of the bills discussed above. The more they hear about animal welfare, the more they will make it a priority. You can also click the link on any of the bill numbers above to get information on who sponsored the bills and who voted for and against them. Thank your legislators if they were helpful or tell them you disagree if they were not.