Tag: general assembly
There’s a rising star in the North Carolina legislature, and she has four legs.
A miniature Pomeranian named Diva comes to work every day at the General Assembly with her owners, Republican representative Nathan Ramsey and his wife, Robin Ramsey, a legislative assistant — and the fuzzy four-pound dog is said to be developing quite a following.
The Ramseys, who live on a farm in Fairview during the off-season, say they started bringing Diva to work in February, because they thought she’d be lonely staying at the condo they reside in while in Raleigh.
Since then, she’s shown herself to be a valuable asset, both a diplomat and a crowd-drawer.
“… In a short time, the taffy-colored rescue pup has arguably become the most chased after creature at the legislative building. Walk in on any given day and you’ll see a steady stream of bipartisan visitors knocking on the Ramseys’ office door,” North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC (91.5 FM) reported.
“It certainly opened the door to more visitors, which is good,” said Robin Ramsey.
On building tours for visiting schoolchildren, Diva’s office has become a regular stop — and, we’d guess, one of the more exciting ones.
“I make it a point to stop by,” said Democrat Rick Glazier of Fayetteville. “You can’t leave after playing with Diva and talking to the Ramseys unhappy or in a bad mood, and that is not always true around here.”
Ramsey, a former county commissioner, says Diva helps breaks the ice and cut through frosty exteriors. And he suspects she has helped him garner support for at least a couple of measures he has introduced.
“A lot of this is about relationships, and really, unless you’re a seat-mate with someone, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to reach across the aisle,” he said. “You don’t develop relationships by sitting in a committee meeting. You have to find out about other people’s lives and families and get to know them in more depth.”
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis recently stopped by Ramsey’s office with his boxer, Ike. A spokesman for the speaker reported the get-together was ”like many meetings in this building — more sniffing around than anything else.”
Back home on the family dairy farm, Diva likes to spend her time circling the baby calf pen.
She likes to round things up, Ramsey says, and those skills seem to have translated from barnyard to state house.
(Photo by Jessica Jones / WUNC)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, diva, dog, dogs, dogs and politics, fairview, fans, farm, general assembly, ice breaker, legislature, nathan ramsey, north carolina, pets, politics, pomeranian, raleigh, representative, republican, robin ramsey, state house, visitors, workplace
A Raleigh city councilwoman posted a photo of her dog relieving himself on a marble column of the statehouse, and compared her canine’s act of seeming disrespect to the way the Republican-controlled General Assembly is treating North Carolina’s citizens.
“I figured, what better way to get my frustration across than with humor?” said City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, who used her Maltese-Yorkie mix and Facebook to register her displeasure.
“It shows a little outrage, and I think a little outrage is appropriate right now,” Baldwin said Friday. “I think it’s time for the gloves to come off.”
Baldwin on Friday posted a photo on Facebook of her dog, Jack Bauer — named for the terrorist-fighting agent from the TV show “24″ – relieving himself on a marble column outside the North Carolina General Assembly.
The Democratic councilwoman admits it may be undiplomatic, but she says the image seems to capture the sort of disrespect that, in her view, Republican lawmakers are showing — particularly in regards to a deal the city of Raleigh made with the state to lease the 325-acre grounds of the closed Dorothea Dix mental hospital for a regional park.
Republican lawmakers have moved to kill the deal, which had been signed and approved by former Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat.
Bills introduced last week would essentially tear up that contract. Republican lawmakers say the deal is not good for taxpayers, and that the $68 million the state could receive over the decades from the city is too low, according to the Associated Press
“It’s beyond me how lawmakers, who are supposed to uphold the law, can think they can undo a legally binding contract,” Baldwin said. “This is nothing more than bullying and intimidation by some members of the General Assembly.”
“I was hoping for the best, but I think I’m seeing the worst,” Baldwin said of the GOP legislative agenda. “When I think about some of the legislation that has moved forward lately, whether it’s telling local governments what design standards they should have, or getting rid of renewable energy tax credits, and then you through Dix on top of that, you just sit there and say, ‘What are we doing?’”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, capitol, city council, column, deal, dog, dogs, dorothea dix, facebook, general assembly, jack bauer, lease, maltese, marble, mary-ann baldwin, mental hospital, mix, north carolina, park, pee, peeing, pees, pets, photo, politics, post, raleigh, republicans, statehouse, urinating, yorkie, yorkshire terrier
A proposal to alter dog bite liability law in Maryland looks to be unraveling, the Washington Post reports.
Last month, the House of Delegates passed a bill to address a Maryland Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls “inherently dangerous” and holding their owners — unlike owners of any other dogs — automatically liable if their dog bit someone.
The House passed a bill that didn’t single out any breeds, but shifted the burden of proof in dog-bite cases — proving that a dog was known or should have been known to be dangerous — from the victim to the dog’s owner.
With negotations having taken place beforehand between members of the House and Senate, with its seeming bipartisan support, with it having passed the House unanimously, it appeared smooth sailing was ahead for the bill.
That hasn’t been the case.
The Senate has come up with an amended version of the bill that — while it doesn’t single out pit bulls — makes it “virtually imposible” for a defendant in a dog-bite case to prevail, according to the delegate who negotiated the bill through the House.
Del. Luiz Simmons (D- Montgomery) says his Senate counterpart had assured him the bill, as approved by the House, would have no problem: “He told me he agreed with the compromise, he told me not to worry about it. We had a deal.”
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), who negotiated the bill for the Senate and is chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said that events had taken an unforeseen turn, leaving him in an “awkward position.”
The new provision — it requires owners to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that their dog was not dangerous before an attack — was proposed last week by Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Montgomery) and approved by a majority of Frosh’s committee.
Frosh voted against it, but says he doesn’t think the amendment hurts the bill.
After the bill arrived on the Senate floor Tuesday, there were attempts to delete Zirkin’s provision, but Zirkin fought them: “I love dogs but if my dog bites a little kid, I should be responsible,” he said.
The feuding could threaten the legislation’s chances of getting passed this session.
Members of the General Assembly failed to pass a similar bill during a special summer session, leaving the appeals court decision that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” intact.
That court, ruling in a case involving the mauling of a 10-year-old Towson boy mauled by a pit bull in 2007, declared owners of pit bulls (and “third parties,” including landlords) automatically liable in the event that their dog bites or injures someone.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bill, compromise, court of appeals, delegates, dog bites, general assembly, house, inherently dangerous, law, liability, maryland, negotiations, pit bulls, pitbulls, proposal, senate, senators
Del. Barbara Frush and Sen. Joanne Benson introduced the bills, based on the recommendations of a task force appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to study animal euthanasia.
The bills would generate funding for the program from a surcharge on existing manufacturer pet food registration fees, a funding source recommended by the task force as reliable, sustainable and fair — and used for a similar program in Maine.
The task force found that 96,000 pets enter Maryland shelters yearly, and more than 45,000 homeless cats and dogs are euthanized each year at an estimated cost of $8 to $9 million taxpayer dollars — about $175-$200 per animal.
The task force also found that cost is a significant barrier for low-income pet owners in having their pets sterilized, and that reaching under-served populations is the most effective way to reduce intake and euthanasia rates in shelters.
“Over the last 18 months, our task force studied spay/neuter programs from around the country, and we have identified the model that will work best for the State of Maryland, said Del. Frush, D-Anne Arundel, who co-chaired the task force. “The Maryland spay/neuter program has the potential to be one of the best in the nation and I am thrilled to introduce H.B. 767 which will help save the lives of so many animals.”
“Increasing spay/neuter services in Maryland not only saves lives, it also saves money,” said Sen. Benson, D-Prince George County. “Municipal animal control agencies spend millions of dollars each year on intake, housing, and euthanizing cats and dogs. Marylanders want to see their taxpayer dollars used for programs that are humane and that work.”
The Humane Society of the United States praised the proposed legislation.
“States that have implemented comprehensive spay/neuter programs have seen a substantial decrease in the number of animals entering shelters and being euthanized,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland state director for The HSUS.
Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals, said, ”It is time for Maryland to replace the current antiquated system of mass euthanasia with a statewide fund to support spay/neuter services. This bill is crucial to reducing Maryland’s unacceptably high euthanasia rate.”
S.B. 820 has 14 sponsors in the Senate and H.B. 767 has 56 sponsors in the House of Delegates. The bills are supported by a broad coalition of animal shelters, animal control agencies, animal protection organizations, veterinarians, businesses and individuals.
To learn more, or sign a petition in support of the proposal, visit SaveMarylandPets.org.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bills, cats, dogs, euthanasia, general assembly, hsus, humane society of the united states, introduced, legislation, maryland, maryland votes for animals, neuter, overpopulation, pets, proposal, shelters, spay
The Maryland General Assembly failed to pass emergency legislation that would have overruled a widely criticized court decision that labeled pit bulls as “inherently dangerous.”
Both the House and Senate, in a special summer session, approved versions of a bill that would have ended singling out pit bulls, but the differences were too “stark” to be worked out before the session ended, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“It will be difficult to come up with a compromise on dogs,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. Miller said the Senate would neither concur with the House changes nor go to a conference committee.
The attempt at new legislation came after the state’s highest court ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, upholding a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that imposed a higher liability standard on pit bulls than other dogs.
That stemmed from a 2007 dog bite case in which a 10-year-old boy’s family sued the dog owner’s landlord. The trial court judge threw out the lawsuit, ruling the landlord hadn’t been proven negligent. The Court of Appeals reviewed the case and decided no proof of negligence is necessary in the case of pit bulls.
Protests from pit bull lovers and animal welfare organizations led the General Assembly to take up the matter — along with gambling — in a special summer session.
Many say the court rulings have already led to landlords kicking out pit bull-owning tenants, or forcing them to surrender their dogs to animal shelters.
The Senate crafted legislation that required all dogs to be treated the same when it comes to determining liability in civil suits — but rather than mandating pit bulls be held to the same standard as other dogs, its proposal held all other dogs to the same standard as pit bulls. The Senate-passed law did away with the common law standard in Maryland that in effect allows a dog “one free bite.”
The House version maintained the “one free bite” rule, applying the stricter standard only in cases where dogs are running loose.
The Humane Society of the United States said it was disappointed the General Assembly failed to pass a bill before the special session adjourned.
“Due to their inaction, thousands of Maryland families may be forced to choose either their dogs or their homes in the next four months, until the General Assembly comes back in January,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The HSUS.
The HSUS said the court ruling has ”forced many Maryland residents to choose between their homes and their beloved pets, and has forced landlords and property managers to try to determine whether dogs are pit bulls or not. With the General Assembly’s inaction, these impacts are expected to multiply.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bill, breed-specific, breeds, dangerous, dogs, emergency, failed, fails, general assembly, house, hsus, humane society of the united states, inherently dangerous, insurance, laws, legislation, liability, limbo, maryland, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, renters, senate, session, shelters, solesky, special, standards, tami santelli, tenants, types, versions
The Maryland Court of Appeals opinion declaring all pit bulls — and conceivably any dog with any pit bull in it — “inherently dangerous” shouldn’t be interpreted as outlawing the breed.
It applies only to litigation, and law-abiding pit bulls and their owners should have nothing to fear, those who see reason in the opinion will point out.
But there’s a lot to fear. Even though the opinion directly affects only those who get sued, it indirectly affects everyone — in the form of pets being abandoned, overcrowded shelters, difficulty finding rental property and giving Maryland a reputation as a state where beings are judged, discriminated against and persecuted, all based on looks.
It’s definitely a step in the wrong direction, fraught with connotations of racism, or its canine equivalent; and, like most exhibits of intolerance, it shouldn’t be tolerated.
B-More Dog, a group that’s been fighting on behalf of pit bulls for a few years now, is among the organizations offering advice to pit bull owners, aimed at better understanding the opinion, undoing the damage it did and dealing with its after-effects.
The same case that led to the court opinion played a role in B-More dog forming. In 2007, 10-year-old Dominic Solesky was bitten by a pit bull that escaped from its yard. Not long after that, a Baltimore County councilman introduced legislation that would have required pit bulls to be muzzled in public, among other restrictions.
At a rally to protest the proposed law, the founding members of the organization met, went on to fight the legislation and formed B-More Dog to promote responsible dog ownership.
The Solesky family, meanwhile, filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 against the owners of the pit bull and their landlord. In 2009, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County ruled that the landlord, could not be held (monetarily) responsible for the dog bite because there was no way she could have known that the dog was “dangerous”.
The Solesky family appealed this decision to the Court of Special Appeals which found in favor of the Solesky family. Then, the landlord’s insurance company asked the Maryland Court of Appeals to hear the case. Its opinion last week, saying in, effect, that all pit bulls are dangerous and owners and landlords should know that, is the one that has sent some pit bull owners into states of near panic.
“B-More Dog has been in touch the best and the brightest people, both locally and nationally, who fight breed discrimination,” the organization said in a newsletter this week. “We remain confident that breed discrimination laws will be defeated in Maryland and we are preparing for the marathon battle ahead.”
B-more Dog isn’t the only organization that’s working to inform pit bill owners of the court opinion’s implications.
The Animal Farm Foundation put together information for pit bull owners that you can find it here. The Humane Society of the United States has some advice for renters and others that you can find here.
Those organziations and others are also looking at legal options, including the possibility of the Maryland General Assembly passing a law to undo the court decision. More information on this possibility can be found on this HSUS Facebook Page.
B-More Dog is planning a “Rally to Support Dog Owners Across Maryland,” and has scheduled some other events as well.
They’ll be on hand May 12, handing out stickers and more at the Baltimore Humane Society’s Paws on Parade event this Saturday (May 12).
Next Saturday (May 19), they’ll be holding ”Pins for Pits, a family-friendly bowling fundraiser at Country Club Lanes, 9020 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore, from 5-7 p.m.
And on Sunday (May 20), they’ll be holding their regular “Pit Bulls on Parade”
walk at Rash Field at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, starting at 11 a.m.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animal farm foundation, animals, b-more dog, breed-specific, breeds, court, court of appeals, discrimination, dogs, events, general assembly, help, hsus, implications, inherently dangerous, law, litigation, maryland, mixes, opinion, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
Pet stores would be held accountable for the health of the animals they sell, and animal abusers could be forced to pay for the care their victims require under bills proposed in Maryland.
Republican Del. Nicholaus Kipke, of Anne Arundel County, is the lead sponsor of House Bill 131, which would require pet stores to post information on cages about where the animals were born.
In addition,the law would require pet stores to provide a warranty for consumers who buy puppies who become ill. A pet store could be required to reimburse veterinary fees up to three times the purchase price of the dog.
Some pet store owners say that could put them out of business. Some animal advocates wish the proposed law was stronger — and would ban pet stores from selling dogs from breeders entirely.
“A lot of the the pet shops say they only buy from registered USDA breeders, but it doesn’t take anything to become a registered breeder,” Jen Swanson, the Baltimore Humane Society’s executive director, told Patch.com. “The rules set forth by USDA are not enforced.”
The only way to stop the “cycle of abuse” is to shun pet stores that sell animals from breeders, she said.
“Quality pet stores and quality breeders are the norm, and not the exception,” said Michael Maddox, general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which represents pet retailers. “They abhor the substandard breeders as much as anyone else; it gives them a bad name. We want these bad folks out of business.”
Maddox said his organization supports the concept of the proposed bill, and said many pet stores already post information about animals they’re selling.
Senate Bill 203, meanwhile, will allow judges to order people convicted of animal cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial.
Animal welfare advocates say shelters are often stuck with the bill — both when it comes to veterinary care and for housing the pet until the trial takes place.
Maryland Votes for Animals is also lobbying lawmakers to create a registry of animal abusers.
Frederick Senator Ron Young, who is drafting a bill, says people need to know if a convicted animal abuser is living in their neighborhood.
If you’re interested in learning more about the bills, Maryland Votes for Animals, along with the HSUS and ASPCA , are sponsoring a 2012 Maryland Humane Lobby Day in Annapolis. It’s Thursday, February 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Room 142 of the House of Delegates Office Building, 6 Bladen Street.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abusers, accountable, animal abuser registry, animal cruelty, animals, breeders, convicted, costs, cruelty to animals, documents, dogs, force, general assembly, health, humane, humane lobby day, information, judges, laws, legislation, lobbying, maryland, maryland votes for animals, pay, pet stores, pets, post, proposed, registry, trial, warranty
It took two years, but the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions says it has acquired and submitted enough signatures to bring an end to the annual flesh markets known as dog auctions.
The sales — similar to what you might see at an auction of livestock, or trafficked humans — are revolting affairs that seem out of kilter with the times.
“It’s a major distribution channel for puppy-mill breeding, and it’s a form of commerce that has not been good for the dogs or Ohio voters or taxpayers,” says Mary O’Connor-Shaver, leader of the coalition.
The group submitted 150,000 signatures last week to the secretary of state’s office. If at least 115,570 are proven legitimate, the General Assembly has four months to either pass a ban or pass a modified version approved by the coalition, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The proposal would ban the auction of dogs in Ohio and the sale or trade of dogs acquired through an auction.
Violations would be misdemeanors, punishable by fines of as much as $250 and jail sentences of as long as 30 days.
O’Connor-Shaver said she expects to know by Jan.6 whether enough signatures have been certified.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the auctions are now held only in Holmes County and involve about 2,500 dogs and puppies a year, with most of the dogs sold destined for pet stores or lives as breeders.
Activists say many of the animals sold are sick, injured, and genetically-flawed. Cameras and cell phones are not permitted at the auctions. The video above was taken five years ago during an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States.
(Photo: Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, auctions, ban, bid, bidding, breeders, buy, cameras, coalition, coalition to ban ohio dog auctions, consumers, defective, dog auctions, dogs, general assembly, hsus, humane society of the united states, legislature, mistreated, ohio, pet stores, petition, pets, puppy mills, sell, sick, signatures, slavery, undercover, video
Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA) is looking for people who want to get involved in the political process in hopes of making 2012 an even more successful year for animal protection legislation in the state.
MVFA is an all volunteer organization working to improve the lives of animals by winning passage of animal protection laws in the Maryland General Assembly.
Volunteers are needed in every legislative district in Maryland to call, write or visit legislators; staff membership recruitment tables at events; and assist with fundraising.
The organization is also looking for volunteers who are willing to play leadership roles in building a humane voting block by becoming district captains. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek October 14th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animal welfare, animals, districts, dogs, fundraising, general assembly, humane, legislation, legislative, lobby, lobbying, maryland, maryland votes for animals, mvfa, neuter, pets, politics, protection, recruitment, shelters, sought, spay, volunteers
At the end of the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, animal welfare advocates are celebrating passage of five major animal protection bills, and the defeat of two that they say would have had an adverse impact on animal welfare.
And to top it all off, as of July, dogs can legally dine in the outside seating areas of restaurants that opt to permit them.
“In the past animal protection laws in Maryland have been weaker than other states. But now we are making huge progress to improve the treatment of Maryland’s animals,” said Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals.
Kilborn attributes the gains to animal welfare advocates being better organized and more outspoken.
The General Assembly passed the following bills during the 2011 session:
- Senate Bill 839, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore City, which requires commercial dog breeders to be licensed by the county in which they operate, and requires counties to report basic information about these commercial breeders once a year to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. This bill will provide critical information to understand the impact of puppy mills in the state. Companion legislation, HB 990, was sponsored by Del. Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery County.
- Senate Bill 639, sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s County, which will set up a task force to study the need for funding of spay and neuter programs in Maryland. An estimated 48,000 homeless dogs and cats are euthanized in Maryland shelters annually. Affordable, accessible spay/neuter programs can help prevent this tragedy. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have a public funding mechanism to subsidize the cost of spay/neuter surgeries for those who cannot afford it. The task force will be comprised of representatives from animal control, humane societies, non-profit spay/neuter organizations, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, the Department of Agriculture and others. Companion legislation, HB 339, was sponsored by Del. Barbara Frush, D-Prince George’s County.
- House Bill 227 sponsored by Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery County, which will allow courts to prohibit someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals as a term of probation. This legislation had strong backing from organizations addressing the issue of domestic violence. Companion legislation, SB 115, was co-sponsored by Sen. James Robey, D-Howard County.
- Senate Bill 747 sponsored by Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County, which allows courts to include protections for pets in domestic violence protective orders. Research has repeatedly shown a link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Children and animals in the family are often threatened, or actually harmed, as a way to manipulate and coerce others in the family. Victims of domestic violence often delay leaving abusive situations because they fear for the safety of their companion animals. This legislation benefits both people and animals and had strong support for organizations which address the problem of domestic violence. Companion legislation, HB 407, was sponsored by Del. Susan McComas, R-Harford County.
- House Bill 897, sponsored by Del. Peter Murphy, D-Charles County, to require the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze. Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in most major antifreeze brands, has an aroma and a sweet flavor which can tempt animals to drink the highly toxic substance. Adding a bittering agent makes it less attractive to companion animals and wildlife.
- House Bill 941, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim, D- Baltimore County, which permits restaurants to allow dogs in outdoor seating areas.
Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA) works to create an ever-growing voting bloc of animal advocates who will elect representatives willing to champion and vote for animal protection legislation.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2011, advocacy, animal, animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, antifreeze, bills, breeders, breeding, commercial, dining with dogs, dogs, domestic violence, general assembly, house, laws, legislation, legislature, maryland, maryland votes for animals, neuter, outdoor, pets, protection, senate, spay