From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Animal-cruelity bill coasts, expected to pass full legislature.

In Animal Cruelty on 21 January 2009 at 2:28 pm

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s animal-cruelty bill breezed through the Senate Judiciary Committee today with debate on only a few legal points.

“I feel very confident that this bill is on its way to the way to the governor’s desk,” McDaniel told the committee.

A provision of the bill requires those convicted of repeated animal-cruelty felonies to undergo psychological evaluation at their own expense. Local attorney Jeff Rosenzweig argued that the bill did not adequately account for how indigent offenders will meet this requirement. The committee voted for the bill as written, with one amendment, over those objections.

The bill’s supporters made sure to build consensus for the measure in order to limit opposition in the legislature. (Gerard Matthews writes about the effort to raise support in this week’s Arkansas Times.) This morning McDaniel alluded to one particular interest group he had to appease: Dog owners with pickup trucks. He tweaked the bill after hearing concerns that people could be prosecuted for transporting animals in truck beds.

“There is no chance that anyone is going to get charged with animal cruelty in Arkansas because they have their dog in the back of a pickup truck,” he said.

With the approval of the committee, the bill appears to be on a clear path to enactment. Today’s amendment included 13 new sponsors in the House, pushing the number to 51, just above a majority. 20 of 35 Senators have signed on.

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