While the Michigan legislature slowly returned to a new “normal” in May and June, there were many issues requiring their attention, including COVID-19, the budget, civil rights issues, and the upcoming election. Things have been moving slowly for bills not related to those issues, but we are still doing our best to fulfill our objectives for the current legislative session.

As you may know, the Michigan legislature operates in two-year sessions, and the 2019-2020 session will end on December 31, 2020. Any bills that haven’t passed by that time will die and would have to be reintroduced in the 2021-2022 session. Typically, the House and Senate hold a very reduced schedule for July and August, and if they do meet, it likely would be to address a high-priority matter like the budget. We expect that activity on our bills will resume when the legislature returns to a full-time schedule after Labor Day, but we will still be competing with the election and other high-priority issues.

Here is a brief update as to where each of our 2019-2020 legislative priorities currently stands:

Regulating rescues

We first told you about this bill in September 2019. The bill attracted a lot of attention from stakeholders with a variety of perspectives on the issue. Extensive discussions, redrafting and the onset of COVID-19 delayed the bill’s first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee, which was finally held on June 25. The Committee voted 5-0 to send a substitute bill to the entire Senate for a vote. If the bill passes the Senate, it will be sent to the House to repeat the process.

Veterinarian mobility

Our May 2020 advocacy blog introduced our work to amend the Michigan Veterinary Practice Act. Michigan Humane has been working with the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association on updating Michigan’s Veterinary Practice Act to, among other things, include an emergency licensure provision that would enable veterinary experts to quickly gain approval to assist with disaster relief, a large-scale cruelty case, or a significant animal disease outbreak. We are working with the MVMA and the bill sponsor on the draft.

Bond-or-forfeit provision

An article we published in February 2020  explained the importance of having an effective bond-or-forfeit process in cases involving animal fighting, cruelty or neglect. Michigan Humane drafted amendments to the cruelty and neglect statutes to replicate the bond-or-forfeit provision we drafted for the animal fighting statute, which was passed in the 2017-1018 legislative session with wide bipartisan support. The bond-or-forfeit provision in the animal fighting statute is working well according to our Cruelty Investigation Department. The bills amending the cruelty and neglect statutes to add the same bond-or-forfeit provision have been introduced as House Bills 5808 and 5809 and are in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing.

We will provide updates and information about opportunities to support these bills as they make their way through the legislative process. Please help us raise awareness and enlist the support of other animal lovers by sharing this blog and encouraging others to join our Legislative Action Network.

Thank you for all you do for animals!

Photo credit: Dave Kim, Michigan Humane

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