The Oregon Legislature began its 35-day "short" session on February 5. The session, which is held in even-numbered years, is generally intended for emergency and "housekeeping" measures. Nevertheless, we are following and weighing in on several animal-related bills, including these:
Poaching Penalties Fix
House Bill 4030 would attempt to make clear that a court in a criminal poaching case can order a defendant to pay damages to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife based on amounts set in a new law passed in 2016. The 2016 law substantially increased amounts the Department could recover in a civil lawsuit for damages caused by poaching. Legislators thought those amounts would also be used to set "restitution" in criminal cases, but some recent court cases have said the law was not clear enough. The proposed bill would attempt to change that so the higher damage amounts could be charged in criminal sentences for poaching. We submitted written testimony in support of this bill with a suggestion for how we thought it could be improved. The bill cleared its first hurdle Feb. 15 when a committee in the Oregon House of Representatives voted to send the bill to the full House with a "do pass" recommendation. Thanks to Representative Ken Helm (Washington County) for continuing to lead the effort on this issue.
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 were told in advance that the bill would not move forward this session. 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 create a new "Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund" for work by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Money for the new account would come from the state general fund, and possibly new federal sources, and could be 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 support reducing the Department's dependence on revenue from hunting and fishing licenses so it does a better job of managing all of the state's wildlife for all residents of the state, not just the "game" animals for people who hunt and fish. This bill cleared its first hurdle Feb. 16 when a House of Representatives committee voted to send it to the full House with a "do pass" recommendation. Thanks to Representative Ken Helm (Washington County) for also leading the effort on this bill.
Greenhouse Gas Bills
House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507 would create 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 regulate emissions from large animal-agriculture operations, despite compelling evidence that they are a leading cause of climate change. Both of these bills have cleared one committee and are waiting for further action.
House Bill 4050 would make some technical improvements to the laws making cockfighting a crime in Oregon. An amendment also would clarify 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. Because it appears to make just technical changes, we have not gotten involved but are nevertheless following the bill's progress. This bill has cleared its first committee vote and awaits further action.
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!