Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bill to define bees, address dog fighting returns to Senate for vote

FRANKFORT—Provisions to combat dog fighting were attached by the House today to a Senate agriculture bill.

Dog fighting is already illegal in Kentucky, but supporters of the House amendment say additional steps should be taken to prosecute those engaged in it. The amendment would classify the ownership, breeding, training, selling, possessing, or transferring or four-legged animals—including dogs—for the purpose of fighting as first-degree cruelty to animals.

Kentucky is the only state in the nation that does not regulate dog fighting like every other state,” said Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, the sponsor of the amendment that was attached by a vote of 62-33 to Senate Bill 143.

Jenkins said that the amended bill would not affect legal activities involving dogs including field trials, hunting, dog training, and other legal activities.

House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, asked the House to rule on whether the amendment was relevant, or “germane,” to SB 143. House Speaker Greg Stumbo ruled that the amendment is relevant, stating that dogs are used in agriculture. That ruling was or challenged, by Hoover and Rep. Tommy Turner, R-Somerset, and the ruling stood by a vote of 43-55. Other challenges to the amendment were also defeated.

Among those lawmakers opposing the amendment and voting against the bill was Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson. York said she feels the amendment could impact legal activities, such as hunting.

“I suppose everyone in here recognizes the need to protect our animals from being used in a perverse fighting environment. The trouble is that while our intentions are pure, I believe that, in this instance, our words are flawed and inadequate,” said York.

The amended version of SB 143 retains the original provisions of the legislation, which would define bees as “livestock” under Kentucky law. SB 143 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville.

SB 143 was returned to the Senate by House members on a 75-13 vote.