Seems every Legislature there are bills about animals – our two-footed, four-footed or six-footed friends who need something, we’re told, from Utah lawmakers.
This year is no different.
There are bills about cow-sharing (I’ll get to that later), beekeeping, cock-fighting (again), dogs and wild horses.
In some cases, legislators want laws changed so animals and their human owners can better protect them.
In other cases it is to better use animals in some way or the other.
“We’re all taking about self-reliance these days,” says Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, who keeps some beehives out on his parent’s property.
“That’s all we’re trying to do” in two of his bills – make it easier for folks to raise or produce food from animals themselves.
Robert’s HB224 would allow residential beekeeping by individuals who may want a few hives on their land, and not have to register each hive, not have to have state inspectors look at the hives, pay registration fees and on and on.
“It’s fun” to keep some bees, said Roberts, and, of course, the little fellas pollinate plants near and far.
If only your family is using the honey, assuming any is produced, then all the state intervention is not appropriate, he adds.
“Did you know it is against the law for two or more people to own the same cow?” Asks Roberts.
Nope. Didn’t know that.
Who knows how many years ago it became illegal for two or more people to own a cow and produce milk from that cow to be sold, says Roberts.
“All I want is to allow you and me to own the same cow, and use that white stuff that comes out of those udders.”
Then there is Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, who wants to have the golden retriever the state domestic animal in SB53.
Osmond says he may amend his bill to have the retriever the state dog, instead of the state domestic animal, since one doesn’t want to offend the cat lovers, not to mention the beagle owners who howl– “What about our Oscar, he’s the cutest little thing around?!”
Then there is Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, who – once again – has a bill that deals with cock fighting.
After years of effort, Davis finally got increased penalties passed last year for the already illegal practice of fighting certain male fowl birds for sport and/or gambling.
But he had to water down the penalties as part of the compromises.
Now Davis is back with SB134, which seeks to increase cock-fighting penalties.
Even as legislators are talking about reducing some of the mandatory jail and prison terms – both for rehabilitation of inmates and to save money as the state looks to spend $500 million to move the state prison – Davis seeks to increase cock-fighting penalties.
To stop the animal cruelty, says Davis, if one is actually fighting the birds – an owner or match operator – the crime should be a 3rd degree felony.
If you are watching an organized cock fight, it would be a Class B misdemeanor – an attempt to get at the folks who may be present and betting on the matches.
Finally, there are proposed some resolutions – not laws — that deal with animals, like Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and his SJR7.
Vickers wants Congress to force federal land managers to follow the current Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
Even better, says Vickers, Congress should give control of wild horses and burros on Utah land to the state, who could manage the herds much better than federal officers.
Will our feathered and furry friends be better off after the 2015 Legislature? Stay tuned.