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November 2018

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Election Day result - a good one for animals and the HSLF

We knew coming into this election season that it would be a fateful one for animals, at both the state and federal levels, and that’s why the HSLF made significant commitments of endorsements, independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates, and grassroots efforts in races throughout the nation. It was worth it, as we sent several anti-animal legislators packing, saw the election and reelection of a number of strong allies, and helped pass ballot measures of immense importance in Florida and California.

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Photo courtesy of iStock.com

One of the candidates we helped to defeat was U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) who in the course of his career voted against animal protection interests 40 times. As Chair of the House Rules Committee, Sessions worked to prevent commonsense, bipartisan measures from reaching the floor for a vote. That’s why we went all in with Colin Allred, who won the race by a margin of 6.3 percent. HSLF placed television and digital ads to contrast Allred’s commitment to animal protection with Sessions’ lengthy record of opposition at every turn.

This was our kind of race and our kind of outcome. We helped to replace a stubborn opponent of our work with a candidate we’re confident will do his best for animals.

HSLF also canvassed more than 38,000 households in CA-48 and CA-49, districts held by representatives who were way out of step with their constituents when it came to animal protection. While we await final results, it appears likely that Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) will defeat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) who recently voted against enforcing animal fighting prohibitions in the U.S. territories, and that Mike Levin (D-Calif.) will take the seat formerly held by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

We also played a critical role in the approval of two consequential state ballot measures. Florida citizens overwhelmingly voted to end greyhound racing, a miserable “entertainment” in which dogs suffer broken bones and deaths on the tracks. This was a big win because Florida is home to 11 of the remaining 17 greyhound racing tracks in the country. As a constitutional amendment, the measure required a threshold of 60% of the vote—it received nearly 69% in the end. We were proud to work with the HSUS, the Doris Day Animal League, Grey2K, and a number of coalition partners to sound the death knell for greyhound racing in the United States; no industry that inflicts so much pain, suffering, and death on thousands of gentle greyhound dogs deserves to survive.

Across the country, Californians resoundingly said “YES!” to Proposition 12, which ushers in the strongest farm animal protection law in the world. Proposition 12 builds on protections first passed by voters in 2008, to ensure that pork, eggs, and veal products produced or sold in the California marketplace come from facilities that do not confine animals in tiny cages for their entire lives. This is the fifth consecutive ballot initiative win on farm animal confinement issues since 2002, and promises to improve the lives of millions of animals. The measure will create immediate relief for millions of animals and bring more pressure on the pork and egg industries to accelerate their transitions to cage-free and crate-free housing systems. California voters saw through the false claims of the factory farming industry, and sided with compassionate and commonsense standards to protect farm animals and food safety.

With results still coming in, we cannot report in full on every race of interest to our supporters, but what we know so far is pretty good. HSLF-endorsed U.S. House candidates won 219 and lost 16 races, for a 93 percent win rate, with 14 additional races not yet called. In the U.S. Senate, HSLF-backed contenders won 16 races and lost 3, for an 84 percent win rate.

In other House races of interest, we worked to re-elect allies like Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the lead sponsor of the Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 4693) and Welfare of Our Friends Act (H.R. 4691), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla), co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus.

But the real story in the Congress concerns the many new faces we’ll welcome, including Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), and Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) who defeated Cresent Hardy, who previously had a zero record on animal protection. HSLF targeted all of these races in its work, and these are great outcomes for animal protection.

Unfortunately, some key House allies lost their races including Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), sponsor of the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act (H.R. 4202) to ensure that federal animal fighting laws are applied to the U.S. territories. Roskam successfully championed the measure as an amendment to the Farm Bill which passed by a vote of 359-51. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a consistent supporter of animal protection and co-chair of the House Climate Change Caucus, also lost.

In the Senate, we saw several strong allies reelected, including Sen, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee who has fought off the frivolous King amendment in the Farm Bill while protecting the pro-animal measures it included, the Pet and Women Safety Act (H.R. 909/S. 322), the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act (H.R. 1406), and the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act (H.R. 4202/ S. 2971). Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a stalwart in our fight against cruel hunting practices on federal lands in Alaska, won his race too, by 23 percent.

We were active in a number of critical state-level races as well. HSLF was heavily involved in Michigan supporting the election of Gretchen Whitmer (D) for governor and Dana Nessel (D) for attorney general. Whitmer has a strong record of animal protection from her service in the state legislature, including votes to uphold the protections for wolves and other wildlife species, so her victory is great news. Nessel will become just the second attorney general to create a dedicated task force to assist prosecutors in cracking down on animal cruelty.

Several important races have yet to be called, so please check back in with our election site as we will be updating as results are announced.

At the HSLF, we put the animal into politics. This year, we endorsed a record number of candidates, and in crucial instances, we put our money and our energy behind them. And so many of you did, too. If  you voted or volunteered for one of these men and women, thank you. If you sent funds in support of our work to elect them, or made contributions yourself, we appreciate it. We wanted to swing for the fences this time around, and because of you, we were able to do it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day is here – see what’s at stake for animals

Election Day is special for those who care about animals, because it’s the one day on which we can directly shape the future for animal protection by electing those who share our humane values. It’s just that important. If you haven’t already voted, today is your last chance. You can identify your polling place at www.vote.org.

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Photo by Mark Bacon/Alamy Stock Photo

But we’d also like to invite you to check out our election site and Humane Scorecard to read about the candidates we believe will do good things for animals.

A few races in particular have tremendous implications for the animal protection landscape at the federal and state levels. For example:

  • In Texas, the dynamic Colin Allred is challenging Phil Sessions, an incumbent in the 32nd district who has repeatedly blocked animal protection measures from receiving a vote on the House floor. HSLF has made substantial expenditures in support of Allred, and against Sessions.
  • In Michigan, a number of women who support animal protection are running statewide, including Debbie Stabenow for U.S. Senate, Gretchen Witmer for governor, and Dana Nessel for Attorney General. They are all proven advocates.
  • In Iowa, J.D. Scholten is challenging “the King of Cruelty,” Rep. Steve King, in the 4th Congressional District. If Scholten wins, King’s reckless anti-animal welfare amendments to the Farm Bill will go away with him. We’ve done our best to mobilize HSLF supporters in this race.
  • In Tennessee, former governor Phil Bredesen is running for the U.S. Senate against Congresswoman Marcia Blackburn, who has supported soring—the cruel use of caustic chemicals and other painful substances to injure the hooves and legs of show horses. We’re all in behind Governor Bredesen in this one.

Here are some of the other candidates we’re supporting:

  • In Colorado, former state official Joe Neguse is running in the 2nd Congressional District with a promise to build on his pro-animal record.
  • In Illinois, Peter Roskam, who has led the charge against animal fighting, is running for re-election in the 6th district, while prosecutor Brendan Kelly is fighting to unseat a callous incumbent in the 12th Congressional District.
  • In Nevada, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford are running for open congressional seats in Nevada’s 3rd and 4th districts, respectively. Horsford’s opponent is a former congressman who refused to crack down on heinous animal cruelty.
  • In New Jersey, Josh Gottheimer, who earned a perfect score on the Humane Scorecard, is running for re-election in the 5th district.
  • In Oregon, Earl Blumenauer, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, is seeking re-election in the 3rd district.
  • In Pennsylvania, Brian Fitzpatrick (8th district) and Conor Lamb (18th district) are running for re-election to continue their good work for animals, while attorney Susan Wild and state legislator Guy Reschenthaler are running for open seats in the 7th and 14th districts, respectively.
  • In Texas, State legislator Lance Gooden and county official Veronica Escobar are running for open seats in the 5th and 16th districts, respectively.
  • In Washington, Kim Schrier is running for the 8th Congressional District against a former state legislator who supported bills allowing the use of body-gripping animal traps, and the hunting of cougars with hounds.

Voters in California and Florida have a particular opportunity to drive positive change for animals in this election cycle with their support for two remarkable ballot measures.

  • In California, Proposition 12 will ensure baby calves, mother pigs, and egg-laying hens aren’t confined in tiny cages. For Congress, Jeff Denham is running for re-election in the 10th district, Harley Rouda is contesting an anti-animal incumbent in the 48th district, and Mike Levin is running for an open seat in the 49th district.
  • In Florida, Amendment 13 will phase out cruel commercial greyhound racing by 2020, and animal protection champions Carlos Curbelo and Vern Buchanan are running for re-election to the U.S. House.

Should you be a resident of either of these two states, or have family members and friends to whom you can reach out, we really want to encourage your advocacy today.

If you’re a supporter of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, you know that your investment means that we’re working hard in the nation’s capital every day, making the case for animals in the Congress and with the agencies of our federal government. And you play a crucial part in any success we achieve by writing and calling legislators and government administrators on your own.

That said, Election Day represents a distinctive opportunity to reshape the world consistent with our animal protection values. Please do get to the polls, and cast your vote in a way that makes a difference for animals. We also invite you to share our election site with friends and family, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates as each race is called.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Stop the King of cruelty

You may have heard U.S. Representative Steve King’s (IA-4) controversial remarks regarding the way he views people. But you may not know he also has a long record of ambivalence and hostility toward animals and their protection. Whether it involves animal fighting, horse slaughter, or the infamous amendment in the House version of the Farm Bill that carries his name, he has consistently fought to prevent any advancement in commonsense animal protections supported by the vast majority of Americans. Today, HSLF launched a digital ad campaign highlighting his longstanding contempt for humane values, and specifically for his obstructionist stand against cracking down on animal fighting and the criminal element that accompanies it.

King’s record on animal fighting puts him right at the bottom of the barrel, as he has repeatedly opposed legislation that would restrict it, making him a part of an infamous minority in the U.S. Congress. Last May, King voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill that would clarify that federal prohibitions on animal fighting apply in all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories. This measure would protect animals from senseless cruelty, communities from other criminal activity often linked to animal fighting, reduce public health threats from bird flu and other diseases, and enhance enforcement of the federal animal fighting law across the U.S. It passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 359-51.

King’s upside down record on animal fighting goes back a long way. In 2007, he voted against the Animal Fighting Enforcement Prohibition Act, which strengthened penalties for illegal animal fighting and made it a felony to transport animals across state lines for the purpose of fighting. In 2013, King worked to block legislation that made it a crime for an adult to attend or bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight.

These measures had bipartisan support and passed by wide margins, but each time, King was at the front of the parade of those staking out the wrong side of the issue.

King is also responsible for one of the worst threats to animal protection at the federal level in recent history. In its various forms over the last few years his bill, also known as the King Amendment is simply fanatical. It’s a radical federal overreach that could undermine thousands of state and local laws, including ones addressing intensive confinement of farm animals, horse slaughter, puppy mills, and shark finning. But the measure doesn’t stop at animal welfare. It could nullify any measure affecting the production of agricultural products, including those regarding alcohol, child labor, fire-safe cigarettes, and dangerous pesticides.

During consideration of the current Farm Bill, King again made plain his willingness to threaten countless state laws that protect animals from abuse and consumers from unsafe foods through his amendment. We’ve been working as hard as we can to stave off his reckless and dangerous attacks.

As if his mischief around the Farm bill weren’t enough, Steve King also has a history of voting against wildlife and equines. He has repeatedly voted to support the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in foreign countries even though the 80% of the U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes it. He voted for a bill that undermines the Endangered Species Act, removing critical protections for some of America’s most iconic and imperiled species, including grizzly bears and wolves. He also voted twice to restore scientifically unjustified methods of trophy hunting on federal land in Alaska.

All of this makes it pretty obvious why HSLF has proudly endorsed J.D. Scholten, a fifth generation Iowan and supporter of commonsense animal protection issues. If we want to end dogfighting and other extreme cruelties that cause animals so much suffering and misery, we must elect humane legislators. And there is no place where this need is more urgent in IA-4.  If you live in IA-4, please cast your ballot to say no to animal fighting, horse slaughter, and harming wildlife and say “YES” to a J.D. Scholten.

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