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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Welcome To 'Animals & Politics'

In May, my colleague Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, launched a new blog called “A Humane Nation.” I questioned whether he would really have the time to write a blog, given his hectic travel schedule and all his other duties for The HSUS.  But, he proved me wrong, and for the past seven months has been posting original entries every weekday, and that keeps HSUS members and staff up to date and up to speed on the fast-changing issues the humane movement confronts. By my count, he posted nearly 200 personal entries already, and it’s a chronicle of the The HSUS’s progress and challenges.

Mike_tafa_3 So here I am, inspired to start my own blog for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. I won’t attempt to blog daily, as Wayne does, but I do promise to keep it timely and relevant, and to offer two or three items each week. You may ask yourself why we need another blog, and believe me, I’ve asked myself the same question.  But I’m convinced that it’s worth my time, and I hope it’s worth some of your time, too.

That’s because HSLF has a unique and critical role to play in the animal protection movement—a legislative and political role. We are one of the few humane groups that can spend considerable resources passing state and federal laws for animals, winning ballot measure campaigns to stop cruel practices, and helping to elect humane candidates and defeat lawmakers who oppose animal welfare.  We aim to usher in a whole new era of legislative and political advocacy for animals. 

In the last couple years, we went head-to-head with the NRA in Michigan—one of the biggest hunting states in the country—and we defeated a measure that would have allowed a target shooting season on mourning doves.  We went head-to-head with the agribusiness industry in Arizona, and we passed a measure banning the cruel confinement of animals on industrial factory farms.  We passed bills in Congress to crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting, protect pets in disasters, and shut down a trophy hunting tax scam.  We passed laws that will finally end cockfighting in Louisiana and New Mexico, the last two states where it was legal.  We waged campaigns against some of the worst members of Congress—like Richard Pombo and Conrad Burns—and helped send these ultra-hostile lawmakers packing.   

But this coming year will be even bigger.  We have major battles in Congress to stop horse slaughter, puppy mills, and other abuses.  The humane movement will wage perhaps one of the biggest fights in recent times—statewide ballot campaigns to ban veal crates for calves, gestation crates for breeding pigs, and battery cages for egg-laying hens in two of the biggest agricultural states in the country, which could impact the lives of 4 million animals in Colorado and 20 million animals in California. And over the next few months, we will see state primaries and caucuses narrowing the field in what could be one of the most exciting presidential elections in years. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a third of the seats in the U.S. Senate, and hundreds of seats in state legislatures and governor’s mansions will be decided.

In this blog, I will aim to keep you updated on these efforts, and give you an insider’s look into the legislative and political processes. I hope to profile the lawmakers and advocates who are doing good work for animals, and challenge those who are harming animals. I will offer commentary on what’s happening in the news, what’s happening in Congress and state legislatures, and what’s happening on the ballot.  I welcome your comments, and hope that you’ll join the conversation. 

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