Update on the California Pet Swap Bill
California’s amended “Swap Meet” bill, AB 339, which would exempt gatherings like reptile and aquarium shows from a ban on live animal sales, was supposed to be heard by the California State Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, August 12, but AB 339 was not on the agenda.
It was determined that because the amended bill would not cost the state any money, the appropriations committee could utilize rule 28.8, allowing AB 339 to skip the committee hearing and move directly to the senate floor.
The Swap Meet bill is on its second reading in the California Senate and likely will pass within the next week and be sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature, according to Jeff Plummer, government affairs manager for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).
The governor would have until Oct. 13 to sign.
“If for some reason AB 339 doesn’t pass the Senate before the Sept. 13 adjournment, it will be taken up again next year,” reported Plummer.
Any unfinished business on Sept. 13 will carry over to the 2014 session, which is set to reconvene in January,” he added.
PIJAC is urging pet industry stakeholders in California to contact their respective state senators and ask that they support AB 339 as amended.
PIJAC has created an email contact form at pijac.org that can be emailed easily to someone’s state senator of record.
Score one for the pet industry.
Pet sellers are on the cusp of a major victory with the amendment of California’s Swap Meet Bill, which now exempts reptile, aquatic and other pet shows from what would have been a ban on the sale of live animals at such events.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is asking California residents to contact their state senator by Monday and ask them to support the legislation, AB 339. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the measure Monday.
A form letter available for email is at www.PIJAC.org.
Introduced in February, the original AB 339 would have criminalized the sale of live animals at reptile, aquatic and other pet shows. If the language had survived the legislative labyrinth and become law, the measure could have had a chilling effect on several big reptile and aquatic shows that take place in California every year, such as the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC), Reptile Super Shows and Reef-A-Palooza.
The lifeblood of these shows are the live lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, amphibians and, in the case of Reef-A-Palooza, corals and fish.
“NARBC would have been done in California,” said Brian Potter, co-promoter of the show, “and then you have to worry that five more states might adopt similar laws and all of our shows would be out of business.”
The trickle-down effect would hit other establishments, Potter said.
“There are a lot of mom-and-pop reptiles businesses who don’t sell online but use reptile shows as the main source of their income, and they would be out of business, too,” he said.
PIJAC credited the “response of stakeholders earlier this year” and its collaboration with the United States Association of Reptile Keepers for getting AB 339 amended.
“Animal rights crazies that go overboard damage businesses and families, and animals aren’t benefiting from that,” Potter said.