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February 22, 2011 07:11 AM UTC

HB 1063 Postponed Indefinitely by a Vote of 12-1: A Win for Colorado Communities

  • by: ProgressiveCowgirl

(Nicely done, PC. – promoted by Aristotle)

HB 1063, Wes McKinley’s bill to eliminate nonprofit cruelty investigators and transfer care costs for impounded animals to the agencies rescuing them, has been postponed indefinitely by a vote of twelve to one. This bill would have devastated animal welfare agencies statewide, and presented an unfunded mandate to local governments that came with a tab of at least $340,000 in training costs alone.

The bill’s failure represents a victory for Colorado’s families, pets, and communities. As I said in my previous diary, animal welfare is good for people and for Colorado. Healthy, well cared for pets and livestock are a benefit to our communities. Diseased, neglected, and potentially aggressive pets and livestock are not. Continuing to enforce our animal cruelty laws will keep our communities safe and healthy.

I was at the Capitol to participate in this hearing, but regrettably had to leave before the vote to get Mini Cowgirl, my niece, to bed on time. After taking care of the kiddo, I logged on to Pols and discovered the great news!

Congratulations to all who opposed this bill. Many Colorado animal welfare professionals spoke eloquently in opposition, despite some amount of badgering from Representatives McKinley and Coram. Chairman Sonnenberg did an admirable job of keeping the committee in line, stepping in repeatedly to redirect comments that were verging into statement territory rather than presenting questions to those giving testimony. A great deal of credit also goes to those behind SB 009, a moderate and animal welfare focused alternative that addresses many of the problems identified by Wes McKinley and acknowledged by animal welfare agencies throughout the state.

Every Coloradoan who loves his or her pets can go to bed tonight feeling secure in the knowledge that when you wake up tomorrow, the Denver Dumb Friends League, Larimer Humane Society, Boulder Valley Humane Society, and many others will still be available to investigate cases of cruelty and neglect in your neighborhood.


16 thoughts on “HB 1063 Postponed Indefinitely by a Vote of 12-1: A Win for Colorado Communities

  1. A reporter shoved a camera in her face and she ran with it — dang, this girl is articulate! I was blown away.

    Progressive Cowgirl — when you are ready to go into politics, call me so I can recommend you to Center for Progressive Leadership. Unfortunately, the application requires a real name.

    Man, I wish my fellow Polsters could have seen her — beautiful!

    It was interesting — we waited all day for the hearing to get to the animal welfare bill (and my apologies to anyone who heard me snore around 6pm). I went outside for a breather and talked to a lobbyist from the National Cattlemen’s Association. Even they were against the bill. The guy said that the system that is in place now works pretty well. They would rather deal with cruelty investigations in a mainstreamed, professional way, and if the funding was cut drastically, there would be no consistency from county to county. I guess he had better things to do than answer questions from small town sherriffs who don’t know much about identifying disease or neglect. (It did make me question if I was on the correct side of the issue for a second, until I remembered the American Humane Association and a whole lot of uniformed animal investigators were also there speaking out against the bill).

    Pretty funny to have a room full of animal welfare activists and lobbyists hanging out with Big Agribusiness lobbyists… and on the same side! Rep. McKinley accomplished a great feat — getting the right and the left to reach across the aisle and work together — against his bill.

    1. What she didn’t mention here is that she’s the one who located the reporter and cornered him long enough to get him to shove his camera in my face, after managing to recognize me in a crowded room never having seen me outside of Facebook, when I was dressed a heckuva lot nicer than my Facebook pics and with my hair up, and signal to me to come outside and talk to the reporter! Nancy also heroically stepped up to take the Mini Cowgirl for a little tour of the capitol and some snacks when kiddo started flagging after 4 hours or so of listening to debate on utility rates and property taxes. I think Nancy’s influence inspired MCG to get up there and testify! MCG returned from her walk determined to say her piece, and she did it!

      It threw me for a loop to see the Cattlemen’s Association opposed, too. But it does make perfect sense. Livestock body condition scoring is NOT an easy thing to do–it’s a simple numerical scale, but you need to know a thing or two about cattle breeds, diseases of cattle, seasonal weight differences, how a cow carries her weight after a few calves differently from a young steer or heifer… they would rather work with animal welfare advocates than people who just flat out don’t know cattle. Smart folks!

      1. Cowgirl and mcg got there at 1pm and I arrived about 2. At 6pm, I had had enough. Cowgirl and mini-cowgirl were bound and determined to stay all night, apparently.

        Sadly, I left before seeing what has been described to me as one of the most inspiring sights of all — after waiting all afternoon and into the evening through the most boring hearing I have ever sat through, ten year old MCG prepared her own statement, signed herself in, and answered questions asked of her in front of the CO Agricultural committee. I wish I could be in her 4th grade class tomorrow. Her teacher is not going to believe it.

        My kids wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes at that age. Unbelievable kid!

        Go cowgirls!

  2. Now how do we punish our animals without the pc-vegan-PETAphiles getting in our face?

    By all accounts, this was a no brainer. Was McKinley there to be the lone aye?

    1. I don’t think that’s prohibited in statute yet.

      He was, indeed, present. Although he took it in good humor when Chairman Sonnenberg tried to send the Sergeants to locate him–he wasn’t missing, he was just sitting in the back of the room–he did not impress me overall. He badgered a few of the people testifying in opposition, and he didn’t take the classy road and back down upon realizing he was heavily outnumbered. He also tried to cast the bill as only affecting livestock, when everyone in the room knew it was written to affect all animals.

      1. why there was no effort to amend and narrow that bill down to only cover commercial livestock operators?  I have to wonder if McKinley even wanted a bill to pass or whether he was just trying to let the good ole boy cattlemen have a chance to vent about the state Department of Agriculture.

        Anyway, my compliments to you and the kid for hanging in there all of a very long day.

        1. as a favor for his good ole’ boy buddy. McKinley brought a similar bill last year: HB10-1124.  That one actually made it to the floor before it was killed.

          The rest of the Committee saw this year’s bill coming and said “Oh Jeez, not this again” and knew it was DOA.  No point in writing amendments.

        2. The trouble I have with it, is, “Is it okay to abuse a sheep and not a dog? Don’t they both feel pain? Are they not both sentient beings?” What is a child has a pet sheep or goat or horse? Does that make them more entitled to be protected from pain, abuse and cruelty? Why?

          1. the bill wasn’t written that narrowly — that’s problem number 1.  (As you know Nancy, it’s what the bill says not what the sponsor says it says that matters.)

            To clarify, I’m saying that the facts in addition to 1. above are:

            2. If the bill had been specifically limited to commercial livestock, it would have lost a lot of its opposition (and may have gained the support of some more of the more agricultural-sympathetic members of the committee).

            3.  Hell no, no animal should be subjected to pain, abuse, and cruelty during it’s life.  But the fact remains that commercial livestock operations raise cattle, pigs, chicken, turkeys, bison, elk, and sheep that pretty much all eventually wind up at the slaughter house (and then your local supermarket) — just sayin’.  (FACT — most folks view the plight of commercial livestock animals much differently than they view companion animals.  I have yet to meet anyone who would admit to relishing the idea of tossing any one of his or her pets on the grill.)

            4.  The costs of housing a large commercial livestock herd are considerable — as was attested to at the hearing — and considerably larger than in comparison to housing a single (or even a few) abused companion animal(s), even an equine(s).

            If after due process the commercial operator was found not guilty of abuse and/or cruelty, then I do think that there is a point to be made that the considerable costs that were incurred should not be borne out-of-pocket by the operator who had his animals taken from him improperly (as deemed by the court).

            It’s the difference between, in one case, a family’s livelihood (that a court has determined was wrongly impacted by an action of the state or some other municipal entity) and a family’s companion animal that was actually improperly mistreated.

            So I hope we’re clear.  No one is saying — and certainly not me, so please don’t imply that I’m even suggesting — that it’s “okay to abuse” any animal.  I may be a generally good-natured troll, but I have my limits too — I’m not about to be tarred with crap like that.  

            1. 1. Got it. Agreed.

              2. You are undoubtedly right.

              3. We all end up dead sooner or later. That isn’t at all relevant to the fact that as sentient beings, no one has the right to abuse, torture or neglect another sentient being. It also isn’t relevant to the fact that all sentient beings, humans and animals alike, feel pain and suffer accordingly. Public perception is completely irrelevant to the morality of the issue.

              4. I understand your point. Perhaps Rep. McKinley will try harder to come up with a law to protect the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers who are well-intentioned and who follow animal welfare laws, without hurting animals and crippling organizations who serve to protect them.  

  3. and nancycronk alike. The legislative process can be mind-numbing and mind-blowing…all in the same day. You wait five hours to speak for five minutes. But that five minutes may be the most important minutes you have ever exprienced. The allure of government lies therein.

    1. Even MCG actually enjoyed most of the testimony. She definitely now knows more about property taxes and water storage than her peers.

      Loved being down at the Capitol, too. I haven’t gone in a few years. Better not make a habit of it or I might refuse to leave. Beautiful old architecture full of interesting conversations and important things happening everywhere… LOVE. I want to live there, and at the Library of Congress in DC.

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