2021 LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY for the GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Georgia General Assembly convened on January 11 and finished with Sine Die in the early hours of April 1. As anticipated, animal related bills were not the session’s priority; however, a few were introduced, and one passed that will benefit local governments in large scale animal impound cases.
HB 574 – Local Government Companion Animal Trust Fund: PASSED
During the final hour on the last day of the 2021 Legislative Session, HB 574 passed the Senate and now heads to Governor Kemp for signing into law. This measure will use a percentage of licensing fees collected by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) to reimburse expenses incurred by local governments for large scale impound cases of dogs (29+), cats (29+) and equines (9+). The law will complement the Cost of Animal Care law passed in 2016. The GPC supports this measure.
Bill Language: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59922
HR191 and SR121 - World Spay Day Resolutions: ADOPTED
World Spay Day Resolutions were adopted in the House and Senate, in honor of World Spay Day 2021. The GPC supports these resolutions that were brought forward by several organizations including the Georgia Alliance for Companion Animal Protection.
House Resolution: https://legiscan.com/GA/bill/HR191/2021
Senate Resolution: https://legiscan.com/GA/bill/SR121/2021
HB609 – Prohibit the Outdoor Sales of Pets: INTRODUCED
This bill prohibits the sale of dogs, cats and domestic rabbits in poorly regulated outdoor locations such as parking lots and roadsides. This measure is an important step towards limiting opportunities for illegal pet sales by Georgia’s many unlicensed “backyard” breeders. The bill received a hearing in the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee, but not a vote. As such, it is still viable for 2022. The Georgia Veterinary Medical Association and Georgia Animal Care and Control Association endorse HB 609. We are very grateful to HB’s sponsor, State Representative Joseph Gullett. The GPC Lobby Team leadsthis bill on behalf of the Georgia Alliance for Companion Animal Protection.
Enhanced bill language has already been offered as substitute, but basic info is here: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59984
SB 303 – Commercial Breeding Regulations: INTRODUCED
This bill appears to improve conditions for dogs in commercial breeding operations (aka puppy mills) via enhanced Georgia Department of Agriculture regulations. Though seemingly well intentioned, the language is flawed and would actually create a bigger loophole for unlicensed backyard breeding than already exists in the regulations. Currently, the bill sits in the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and has not had a hearing. It is still viable for 2022. The GPC will propose amendments to bill’s language.
Current Bill Language: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/60552
Parimutuel Betting / Horse Racing Bills: INTRODUCED (HR 84 defeated in committee)
Six bills/resolutions were introduced to legalize parimutuel betting and establish a Georgia Horse Racing Commission responsible for licensing up to three racetracks in the state (HR 184, HB 538, SB 30, SB 212, SR 53, and SR 131). HR 84 was defeated in committee and the others did not make Crossover Day. These bills do not contain “Horse Racing” in the title. Titles include “Rural Jobs and Growth Acts” and “Destination Resort Facilities/Casinos.” The powerful horse racing and casino lobbies have been trying for the past six years to pass similar legislation in Georgia. As an industry, horse racing has been in decline for the past 20 years, with 38 tracks now shuttered compared to two openings. Due to decreased revenues, racing has been compelled to partner with casinos and state-sponsored subsidies to prop up its beleaguered financial status.
The GPC is opposed to horse racing for many reasons, including the resultant overbreeding and lack of adequate, lifelong care for retired Thoroughbreds. A large portion of horses in the slaughter pipeline to Mexico and Canada are sport horses (i.e., Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds). The recreational sector simply cannot absorb the number of horses produced by overbreeding in the racing sector.
Pet Stores and Puppy Mills
The retail pet store industry registered 5 lobbyists for the 2021 Legislative Session. As far as we know, they did not introduce their preemption language, which would have overturned Georgia’s 12 local ordinances prohibiting the retail sales of dogs and cats in pet stores. The GPC will continue to monitor any attempts by the pet store industry to pass a bill or amendment that take away authority from local governments to regulate pet sales. Please tell your state lawmakers to safeguard local ordinances which regulate unethical business practices related to pet sales.
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