The California legislative season is back, along with its attendant agita. In my capacity as both your spcaLA President and as chair of the State Humane Association legislative committee, it has been my responsibility to draft, study, support, oppose, testify, and ponder new or amended legislation affecting the welfare of animals.
Despite popular sentiment, there ought not to be a law about every little thing. Many statutes, like our animal cruelty statute are intentionally written to be elastic and broad so as to permit diverse application and to subsume novel scenarios. Emphasis on the minutia, unnecessary, redundant, and trivial, accomplishes nothing other than creating a vanity based set of laws which don't help and can actually hurt our constituency by not actually protecting their interests. Bad legislation is not better than none. Let us resolve to be judicious in our choices for new laws.
It is also time to stop voting on the titles and begin to understand the actual content of proposed bills. Exogenous parties, out of state organizations, lobbyists, and public relations operatives often place bills with attractive and important captions before the legislators and the public, which, if read carefully, say something else or accomplish nothing. They give awards, form little clubs and flatter the elected officials, which, is fine if Californians and our animals benefit from these efforts. Appearances should mirror reality. We must not play the role of pawn in their game or election campaign strategy. Let us resolve not to support bills where the title promises protections that the text does not deliver or that are motivated by intentions contrary to the best interests of California and its residents.
With the current sentiment to dump incumbents, it is incumbent upon our elected officials to drill down and regulate meaningfully. They must understand what is relevant and necessary for us and not be fooled by those who would misuse the legislative process to promote an agenda that is not commensurate with those interests. Let us resolve to let these legislators know that we will read the drafts, speak our minds, and expect them to be mindful that their written words match their verbal assurances.
Finally, we, the people, must commit to the above and insist that our elected officials legislate responsibly and on our behalf.
I will keep you posted as to our progress!
“Laws, like the spider’s web, can catch the fly and let the hawk go free.” Spanish Proverb