By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division
Despite the new norm of congressional gridlock, AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division (GRD) continues to push for many important animal welfare legislative priorities so that they will not to get lost in the fray. The GRD will be seeking passage of several key bills in 2014.
First, provisions similar to the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act (H.R. 366/S. 666) have been included in both versions of the Farm Bill. The provisions will amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit people from knowingly attending animal fights or causing a minor to attend an animal fight. While most states have recently adopted stricter laws that address animal fighting, enforcement continues to be a challenge, and AVMA believes that, in order to be effective, it is important to combine federal and state efforts. By targeting not only those who participate, but also those who frequent these events, the bill will help put animal fighting organizers out of business. House and Senate conferees continue to discuss the Farm Bill, and there is hope that Congress will soon be voting on a final version (see related article).
Another piece of legislation that is a priority for the association is the Horse Transportation Safety Act (S. 1459). This legislation would prohibit the interstate transportation of horses in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. The AVMA has actively worked in previous Congresses to pass this legislation, but it has been unsuccessful mainly due to opposition from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and other livestock groups. In the next year, Congress should again be considering a large transportation reauthorization bill, and the GRD will seek to include language from S. 1459 in that bill.
Finally, Congress recently held a hearing on the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518/S. 1406), at which AVMA’s Chief Executive Dr. Ron DeHaven testified in support of its passage. The bill will provide the regulatory oversight necessary to protect the health and well-being of our nation’s walking horses. Support for the bill has reached a critical mass in the House of Representatives, with a majority of representatives cosponsoring the bill. The GRD continues to urge members to call and ask their members of Congress to support passage of this bill so that it receives the consideration and floor time it deserves.