2013 Legislative Session Wrap-Up
The 2013 session of the Washington State Legislature officially kicked off on Monday January 14 and ran through April 28. The 105-day session was a very busy one and included some very important bills to help animals. There were also two special budgetary sessions held in May and June, but none of the bills focusing on companion animals were considered as they were not part of the budget package.
The Spay/Neuter Assistance Bill – SB 5202 and HB 1229: The goal of the bill is to help fund spay/neuter surgeries on cats and dogs belonging to low-income residents of our state, and on feral and free-roaming cats. The bill does not make spay/neuter surgery mandatory.
Versions of this bill have been introduced to the legislature since 2009. We made significant progress during the session. On March 13, a substitute version of SB 5202 passed on the Senate floor and went to the House Agriculture Committee for consideration. The substitute bill had an alternate funding source that we do not believe will be sufficient, so we worked with legislators to pursue workable, adequate funding options. While those issues still need to be resolved, a hearing was held before the Agriculture Committee. Unfortunately the bill did not get voted out of committee before the bill cut-off date; however it will be reactivated during the 2014 session.
Preventing Animal Cruelty - HB 1201 / SB 5203: This bill would have prohibited the selling, bartering, or auctioning of animals upon certain public property or upon certain private property open to the public. This bill will close a loophole used by puppy mill and backyard breeders to prey upon unsuspecting consumers.
Despite offering some amendments to the bill, it remained too controversial and was not voted out of committee. Since no additional action was taken on this bill before the cut-off deadline it did not move forward this legislative session. Additional modifications are being considered for the bill when it is reintroduced in 2014.
Improving the current animal cruelty statute – HB 1202: This bill would have modified and improved the current animal cruelty statues relating to the crimes of animal cruelty in the first and second degree, animal fighting, and leaving and/or confining an animal in a motor vehicle or certain enclosed spaces.
While a companion bill in the Senate was also created, only the House bill had a hearing and moved forward in the House Judiciary committee. It got down to the House Floor but never got called for a vote. This bill will also be reintroduced during the 2014 session.
Other animal related bills were also considered during the session, but due to the focus on the budget issues and education, very few progressed. Many of these bills will also be reintroduced during the 2014 session.