May 25, 2006
Assembly Bill 2110 (or as a PDF) died a quiet death today in the California Assembly's Committee on Appropriations. A postmortem here will follow shortly, but it is safe to say that the incredible show of opposition from so many diverse quarters put this bad legislation to rest.
On Friday, February 17, 2006, California Assemblywoman Loni Hancock introduced Assembly Bill 2110 (amended since then), which would make it a crime for any person in California to engage in "field coursing".
Her broad definition field coursing includes allowing a dog to chase a rabbit, hare, or fox whenever such a chase results in the injury or death of that rabbit, hare or fox. And this is not simply a "ticket" offense. Rather, it would become a misdemeanor, "punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed 6 months, by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by both that imprisonment and fine".
We believe this proposed legislation to be extremely misguided and bad for California.
On Tuesday, April 4, 2006, the Public Safety Committee of the California Assembly held its hearing on Assembly Bill 2110 (or as a PDF). At that hearing, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock amended her bill and thereby changed its scope in significant ways.
Thanks to a tremendous, unified show of opposition to the bill (both leading up to the hearing and at the hearing itself), one of the committee members crossed party lines to vote against the measure. But despite the willingness of one of the majority party's members to vote her concience, the bill passed the Public Safety Committee by a 4–3 vote.
On May 10, the Assembly's Committee on Appropriations placed the bill in the "Suspense" file. See the below for an explanation of that bit of bureaucratic weirdness. In two weeks (May 24), the same Appropriations Committee will meet again to decide which bills will come out of Suspense to be voted on. If this bill remains in Suspense beyond May 26, then it is dead for this session of the Legislature.Assembly Bill 2110 (or as a PDF) was heard by the California Assembly's Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday, May 10. (Audio file here -- 20 minutes, 18.5 MB mp3) We had a wonderfully strong showing of opposition to the bill, outnumbering its misguided supporters by a 3-to-1 margin.
Thanks to the work everyone has done in showing legislators how bad a bill this is, there was a small victory won on Wednesday: the Appropriations Committee acknowledged that the bill would cost significantly more to implement than its author and backers wanted anyone to know, so the bill got placed into the bureaucratic state known in the California Assembly as Suspense.
As far as we were able to gather, Suspense means that the bill's author will have to assign a priority to this bill among all of the other costly bills that she has written this session. The Appropriations Committee will return to this item in two weeks (on May 24) and decide whether or not to pull the bill out of suspense. We must continue to let the members of the Appropriations Committee know that this bill is all cost, with no benefit to the State of California.
On May 24 and 25, the Appropriations Committee left the bill in its Suspense file, effectively killing it for the legislative term. We will keep on the lookout for any attempts to reintroduce similar legislation next session, which starts in January, 2007.
Search Steve's blog page for "coursing" to find his well-reasoned posts on the subject and on this bad bill.
"The best friend any wild animal ever had is the hunter who exercises his or her personal freedom to stalk the woods, mountains, meadows, or marshes..." From Right to Hunt vs. Animal Rights by Jim Amrhein.
"The black-tailed hare or jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), the desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii), and the brush rabbit (S. bachmani) are widespread and cause the majority of problems. Because of its greater size and abundance, the jackrabbit is the most destructive." From Pest Notes, Publication 7447, by T. P. Salmon and W. P. Gorenzel.
Yes, the bill is dead for this session. But the sooner you build a relationship with your legislator and his or her staff, the better off we will be when this sort of bill comes up again. And now, Election Season, is a great time to meet all of the candidates. See the utility on the state's web site for help in locating your representative.
There were a lot of photocopies made so that committee members could see the broad opposition to this bill, and donations are still being accepted in order to help offset some of these costs. Check back here for a full accounting of how donations were used directly to fight this bill.
Coursing Defense Fund
P.O. Box 108
Pope Valley, CA 94567
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect the rights of those who own and use sporting dogs in hunting pursuits. They keep a great staff on the lookout for legislation that affects us.
"Anyone who thinks that every pet activity won't get the AR attention in
the sequence those control freaks choose is living in a fantasy world....
Anyone who separates himself from legitimate pet activities that are
already under attack in hopes of avoiding their own turn under attack when
the time comes is a fool."
Jim Matthews, writing the May 10 Weekly Commentary, published on Turner's Outdoorsman web site: "The bill’s authors are clueless. Their talking points are right from an animal rights activists' handbook, and this is just a first step in their desire to ban all hunting, ban all rearing of domestic animals for sale, and – ultimately – ban all meat consumption by people like us." His story includes his account of a day hunting jackrabbits with salukis.
To clear up some misconceptions being spread by some proponents of this bad legislation, we compiled answers to some questions we have been asked lately.
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