NH Biennial Budget Bill HB 2:
This week, some provisions in the proposed state budget (HB 2) caught our attention. One seems like a good idea but another may increase costs for those who train or hunt with dogs. A third adds late fees to licensing of commercial kennels and shelters.
A new position of Assistant State Veterinarian is proposed. This could be a welcome addition since the NH State Veterinarian is overwhelmed by administrative duties and field work.
HB 2 appears to propose some changes in how fees are set. Section 34 of HB 2 repeals the $9.50 fee for a permit to conduct a field trial and allows the Executive Director the Fish & Game Commission Executive Director to set the fee; and Section 33 repeals the $5 fee for a bear dog training permit and allows the Executive Director to set the fee. It is doubtful that the new fees will be less than those being repealed. HB2 does not require that the fees be based on any specific criteria.
In addition, HB 2 allows rules to be established for the levying of late fees on commercial kennels, pet shops, animal brokers, and animal shelters that are required to be licensed (RSA 437:1). There is no guidance provided in HB 2 for how this late fee would be set.
If you are concerned about these changes, DOGS urges you to write the House Finance Committee at HouseFinanceCommittee@firstname.lastname@example.org (please cc DOGS at Yvonne ) or attend the upcoming public hearings:
House Finance Public Hearings
Monday, March 9, 2015
Kennett High School, 409 Eagles Way, Conway, (6PM)
Derry Town Hall, 14 Manning St, Derry, (5PM)
HB 624: Cost of Care bond when animals are seized pending disposition of animal cruelty charges.
Status: House Environment & Agriculture Committee voted 18-0 for the Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation. House floor vote expected on March 12th.
Committee’s report: This bill takes away a citizen’s right to due process of law, and presumes guilt prior to a hearing. It allows for seizure of an owner’s animals and requires them to post an animal care bond or other security prior to any conviction of animal cruelty. Current law already requires proof of financial accountability for those who have been convicted of cruelty and had their animals lawfully seized. During testimony, the ACLU stated ‘that the poor in New Hampshire who own pets would be far more likely to forfeit their animals given the inability to post bond.’ In addition, the ACLU noted a federal court decision (Louisville Kennel Club, Inc. v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Gov’t) stating ‘that mandating permanent forfeiture for failing to timely post a bond, without finding of guilt, has been rejected for violating procedural due process,’ holding that the portion of the law that would permanently deprive a pet owner of his property, absent a finding of guilt, is unconstitutional.
Action Needed: Send thank you email to members of the HouseEnvironmentandAgricultureCommittee@leg.state.nh.us for recommending the bill Inexpedient to Legislate. We expect that the committee recommendation will be upheld on the House floor.
HB 661: Requiring Shelters to Annually Report Animal Intake, Care & Disposition Data
Status: House Executive Departments Committee is retaining the bill for further study over the summer. Public hearing conducted 2/17/15.
DOGS Position: DOGS Supports HB 661. The bill requires nonprofit animal shelters to annually file information about the animals accepted (including imported), their care and disposition. Due to the increasing numbers of dogs being imported into the state, this bill is essential to track potential public health threats from imported animals.