5/23/2011 9:08 PM
Dog jokes abounded as the dog and cat breeder bill, HB 1451, also known as the “puppy mill bill,” passed the Senate May 23.
This was the bill from Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), that Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) knocked off the local and consent calendar a few weeks ago.
The bill essentially makes dog and cat breeding a regulated industry. The Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) would have to establish requirements for obtaining a license. TDLR would have to inspect a facility before awarding a license and at least once every 18 months thereafter.
The aim of the bill is to prevent exploitation of animals forced to live in inhumane conditions to be sold for profit. But Simpson contended a few weeks ago the bill creates a new level of regulatory authority for the state, and that during a budget crisis the state should be finding ways to reduce the size of government instead of expanding it.
The bill also creates a new fee. “The bill would authorize TDLR to set a licensing fee and a nonrefundable inspection fee,” the fiscal note says. “Licensing fees generated under the provisions of the bill for the purposes of funding the regulation of licensed dog and cat breeders and dealers would be deposited to the credit of the General Revenue Fund.
“The bill would establish a new Dog or Cat Breeder Training and Enforcement Account as a separate account in the General Revenue Fund for the purposes defined in the bill.”
Senate sponsor John Whitmire (D-Houston) amended the bill on the floor to impact owners not merely who own at least 11 intact female animals, but who sell or offer to sell or exchange at least 20 animals in a calendar year.
Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) tried to amend the bill to change that number from 20 to 60. He said that number was used in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Whitmire said that Fraser’s amendment would basically allow for puppy mills. During the vote, Whitmire jokingly asked Fraser, “Do you run a puppy mill?” The amendment was tabled 25-6.
The bill now exempts persons who breed special purpose dogs, for reasons like hunting or herding.
Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) also amended the bill to allow a licensed breeder to euthanize an animal younger than six months of age.
The bill passed 22-9 to third reading. Whitmire then managed to suspend the constitutional three-day rule with 25 votes. It was finally passed 22-9.