‘A legacy year’ for animal welfare laws in Annapolis, lawyers say

Lawmakers and animal rights activists watch Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) sign legislation on Thursday that addresses the cost of caring for animals rescued from cruelty. The bill-signing ceremony was historic for the presence of two black women — House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Melony G. Griffith — co-signing the bills as presiding officers. the legislature. Griffith replaced Senate Speaker Bill Ferguson. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

A year of plenty led to the passage of many ambitious programs to help struggling families and businesses in the just-concluded General Assembly session — and Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. ( R) and legislative leaders signed many of these bills into law on Thursday. .

But the 2022 session has also turned into a year of great victories for the animal rights movement in Maryland. From the most high-profile legislation – a bill banning cat declawing – to measures to prevent and mitigate animal cruelty and protect internationally endangered wildlife, “it was a year of legacy” for animal welfare, said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

“This was the year to do it for the animals and pass critical reforms that have been debated but never moved before,” she said. “We are grateful that our legislature has taken action to protect so many animals from inhumane treatment.”

The bill-signing ceremony began with Hogan noting that Senate Speaker Pro Tem Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George’s) punched Senate Speaker Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), making it a moment landmark in Maryland, with two black women filling the role of legislative presidents during a bill signing, as Speaker of the House Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) took her usual seat in the left from Hogan.

“So you should take pictures,” Hogan told the gathered crowd.

In total, leaders signed 103 bills into law on Thursday, many aimed at boosting the economy and workforce, tackling crime, protecting the environment and improving public and mental health. [Click here for a full list of legislation]

Jones said an influx of federal funding, coupled with “smart decision-making,” enabled lawmakers to “rebuild the foundations of our economy, middle-class families in Maryland.”

But the abundance of animal rights laws that have been passed is remarkable, and Hogan signed a handful of them on Thursday. They were:

  • House Bill 22, of Del. Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery) and Senator Cheryl C. Kagan’s (D-Montgomery) Senate Bill 67, which makes Maryland the second state in the nation to ban the practice of cat declawing.
  • HB 1062, from Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery), which establishes procedures for humane societies or law enforcement agencies to recoup the costs of caring for animals seized for cruelty or gross negligence.
  • SB 44, by Sen. Christopher R. West (R-Baltimore County) and HB 16, by Del. Mary Lehman (D-Prince George’s), which prevents people from leaving a dog outdoors and unattended for more than 30 minutes without access to shelter during extreme weather conditions. It provides for civil penalties for any violation.
  • SB 381, of Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) and HB 52, of Del. Sara Love (D-Montgomery), which prohibits the sale of parts and pieces of 15 endangered and endangered wildlife species. This legislation stems from a 2021 Humane Society study that found ivory items were for sale in 20 stores in Maryland. A dozen other states have similar legislation.

Additionally, Hogan, during the first post-session bill signing on April 12, signed a Maryland Department of Agriculture Act to reauthorize the Spay/Neuter fund for 10 years. , which funds grants to local governments and animal welfare organizations for programs that facilitate and promote neutering and neutering services for cats and dogs in the state.

Despite the presence of hundreds of lawmakers and lawyers, Thursday’s bill-signing ceremony took place in 45 minutes. There should be at least one more this spring: Hogan has until the end of May to sign or veto the rest of the bills passed during the 90-day session. He also has the option of letting bills pass into law without his signature.

“We still have hundreds of bills pending,” the governor said Thursday.

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