Changes in Congress

Along with the unexpected outcome of the presidential race (see page 2), Election Day 2016 resulted in the defeat of two lawmakers who have worked to improve animal welfare. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) sponsored two top priority bills in the 114th Congress, the Pet and Women Safety Act (S 1559) and the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (S 1121). Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) sponsored legislation banning the use of double-decker trucks for transporting horses.

Meanwhile, Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) retired. Rep. Farr was elected in 1993 and quickly took up the cause of animal protection, paving the way for it to become a mainstream concern in Congress. He was an early voice for ending inhumane treatment of circus elephants. Most recently, when opponents in the House prevented progress on bills such as those to end the slaughter of horses for human consumption or the use of random source dogs and cats for research, Rep. Farr used his position on the powerful Appropriations Committee to advance those goals.

Also retiring is Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who was co-chair, with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. We look forward to working with Rep. Blumenauer, as well as Rep. Fitzpatrick’s successor on the Animal Protection Caucus and many other allies in the 115th Congress, as we fight to hold the line on animal welfare in what looks to be a very unfavorable environment.

State Initiatives
November 8 yielded some positive change for animals at the state level. Perhaps the biggest victory: By an overwhelming 78 to 22 percent margin, Massachusetts voters passed Question 3, prohibiting the use of small wire battery cages for egg-laying hens, gestation crates for breeding pigs, and confinement crates for calves raised for veal. These practices will be phased out by 2022. Moreover, Question 3 prohibits the sale of products from these confined animals regardless of where those products originate.

Another major success was the passage of Oregon Measure 100, the Wildlife Trafficking Prevention Act. This measure prohibits intrastate trade in parts and products of elephants, rhinos, whales, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pangolins, rays, sea turtles, and sharks (except spiny dogfish). The new law takes effect in July 2017.

Fortunately, Oklahoma voters defeated State Question 777, which would have amended the state constitution to prevent limitations on agriculture without “a compelling state interest”—a measure that would have stifled animal welfare reform. However, in a potential loss for animal protection, Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment that makes it much more difficult to get measures amending the state constitution on the ballot, and requires more than a simple majority for approving such measures. In 1994, Coloradans passed a constitutional amendment banning the killing of wildlife in the state via inhumane body-gripping traps and poisons. Such an amendment would not have gotten through under the new rule.

International Affairs
Before Congress recessed for the election, 54 members of the House of Representatives, led by Representative Don Beyer (D-VA), wrote to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urging the United States to strongly support a proposal at the CITES meeting in Johannesburg to increase protections for elephants in certain southern African nations. Disappointingly, the US delegation voted against the proposal. (See page 10 for more on CITES.)