Message from Animal Folks MN
Update March 2010
NEWS: SENATE FILE 7 DID NOT PASS
We have disappointing news to tell.
Yesterday (Tuesday, March 9), the MN Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill (Senate File 7) was heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee; however, it did not pass.
As you know, S.F. 7 and H.F. 253 were laid on the table ("put on hold") in their respective Agriculture Committees during the 2009 session. In order to move each bill along, we needed a majority vote in each Agriculture Committee to take the bill off the table and continue discussions.
We also needed to meet committee deadlines. (The first policy committee deadline in the Minnesota Legislature is this Friday, March 12. Bills must pass through all policy committees in either the House or Senate by this date.)
Because S.F. 7 did not pass the Senate Agriculture Committee, the committee deadlines cannot be met.
Time was running out
The lobbying team has worked hard meeting and talking with Agriculture Committee members in both the House and Senate trying to get hearings and secure the votes. Thousands of constituents (you) from all over Minnesota have also been calling, emailing and writing legislators and signing petitions of support.
The Chair of the House Agriculture Committee (Rep. Otremba) would not grant H.F. 253 a hearing until there was movement in the Senate. But the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee (Senator Vickerman) would not grant S.F. 7 a hearing.
So the lobbying team took different action, bypassing the normal way a bill is scheduled and given a hearing.
Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was supportive of the bill, was approached and she agreed to make a motion yesterday (March 9) to move S.F. 7 off the table for a hearing. This motion passed, which then allowed the bill to be debated in Committee.
As the Committee Chair would not grant the bill a hearing, this motion allowed the bill to be heard.
Senator Don Betzold, the author of S.F. 7, gave an overview of the bill. He did an excellent job, as too did Keith Streff (humane agent for the Animal Humane Society) who responded to questions from Committee members. The Chair did not allow for any public testimony.
One legislator was very supportive and expressed his reasons. Another legislator was in strong opposition and insisted "the system works as is." One legislator committed to voting yes prior to the meeting but then changed her vote. The Chair was not supportive.
When there were no more questions on the bill, a motion was made to vote yes or no on the bill. The Committee vote was 7 to 5 - opposed. The bill failed.
Following the vote, two legislators (who voted yes) expressed a clear desire that something needs to be done.
NOTE: For video coverage of the meeting, go to: Senate Agriculture Committee
(Senate File 7 is the last item discussed.)
Senate Agriculture Committee
There are 15 members on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Below are the member names (with emails and phone numbers) and how each voted.
Senator Jim Vickerman (Chair, District 22) 651-296-5650 - NO
Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes (Vice Chair, District 31) 651-296-5649 - YES
Senator Steve Dille (Ranking Minority Member, District 18) 651-296-4131 - NO
Senator Lisa A. Fobbe (District 16) 651-296-8075 - NO
Senator Joe Gimse (District 13) 651-296-3826 - NO
Senator David W. Hann (District 42) 651-296-1749 - PASS (didn't vote)
Senator Bill E. Ingebrigtsen (District 11) 651-297-8063 - NO
Senator Paul E. Koering (District 12) 651-296-4875 - NOT PRESENT
Senator Gary W. Kubly (District 20) 651-296-5094 - YES
Senator Keith Langseth (District 9) 651-296-3205 - YES
Senator Tony Lourey (District 8) 651-296-0293 - YES
Senator Steve Murphy (District 28) 651-296-4264 - YES
Senator Rod Skoe (District 2) 651-296-4196 - NOT PRESENT
Senator Dan Skogen (District 10) 651-296-5655 - NO
Senator Satveer S. Chaudhary (District 50) 651-296-4334 - NO
Every legislator who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee was lobbied - multiple times. Each member was (and is) fully aware of the details of the bill and has seen or heard about animal cruelty, consumer fraud, tax evasion, and other issues defining the problem.
As for the opposition, lobbyists for agricultural interests and for the larger breeders also showed up at the committee meeting, as did the NRA lobbyists. They worked hard lobbying committee members. Some small breeders, too, many of whom were apparently ignorant of the details of the bill, worked hard against it.
We will offer further details and explanations about the vote in the coming weeks through emails and posts on the Animal Folks MN website.
TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK
It's time to hold legislators accountable for their votes:
• For legislators who voted yes, please contact them and say thank you. They gave us support; we need to show them ours.
• For legislators who voted no, consider contacting them and voicing your disappointment (nicely, please) about their choice to vote no.
• Most importantly, please remember how these members voted when you vote during the next election. (Senator Vickerman, Senator Dille and Senator Murphy have announced they will not be running for re-election in 2010.)
YOUR VOICE WAS HEARD
Please know how incredibly important your efforts have been, and please don't stop. We won't.
The Minnesota Legislature, not just the Agriculture Committee, heard us. They know about the problem of inhumane dog and cat breeding and the need for regulation.
Petitions, emails, letters and calls in support of S.F. 7/ H.F. 253 have been submitted to Minnesota legislators by thousands of people throughout Minnesota.
The 10,000 goal for petitions was met. The response after our last email was overwhelming; the response at the Pet Expo was also extraordinary. With the help of Stop The Suffering, the Minnesota Humane Society, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection and individual citizens from all over the State, over 10,000 names of supporters were collected and submitted to legislators, representing every House and Senate district.
This list is still valuable and useful. It gives us all a strong database and voice to use for future efforts. We will continue to build a well-informed, well-connected advocacy network that represents all areas of Minnesota. Please still continue to direct people to Animal Folks MN to learn more and build support.
THANK YOU to everyone for your commitment and hard work. You are all amazing.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO HELP. This is the beginning of a movement, not the end. In the coming weeks and months, we'll notify you (through emails and on the Animal Folks MN website) about what you can do to help change the "system" for animal protection in Minnesota and help change attitudes about how animals are viewed and treated.
View video of one of the many puppy mills here in rural Minnesota.