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Tennessee — URGENT — TODAY! VETO HB 852

By March 20, 2019 Legislation

House Bill 852 has suddenly morphed from a relatively inoffensive bill into the “Tennessee PAWS” act and it’s bad. Per news stories, it looks like the bill will be gutted and the sponsor will seek to — his words — completely overhaul animal laws in Tennessee. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will hear this bill this afternoon (Wednesday), 3/20.

Here’s a link to the bill as it was introduced: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HB0852&fbclid=IwAR3FuxBpkEnhXPRkgTyBX0qcIYQsAT72Qs1cKxS99D6z12Ez4_zGc8nq9Rw

And here’s a news story this week with the changes the sponsor is planning to make to it: http://www.wenkwtpr.com/2019/03/17/hearing-for-rep-griffeys-tennessee-paws-act-set-this-week/?fbclid=IwAR2V-bexJ1Q_dJx8o7c8UBO4-2pYwqMI7ZyqOplMxmfUSqJY9oggr6KDY34

Hearing For Rep. Griffey’s Tennessee PAWS Act Set This Week
March 17, 2019 at 6:41 pm Posted By Shannon McFarlin

Nashville, Tenn.–House Bill 852, also known as the TN PAWS Act – the TN Protection of Animal Welfare & Safety Act – is scheduled for hearing this coming Wednesday, March 20, at 3:30 pm before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee in House Hearing Room II at the Capitol Building in Nashville.

This bill, sponsored by Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), seeks to completely overhaul animal laws in Tennessee, provide stronger protection to voiceless victims, harsher penalties against animal abusers and greater assistance to law enforcement and rescue organizations who assist victimized animals. Griffey was inspired to write the bill based upon his and his wife’s experience as prosecutors handling animal cruelty cases.

“Tennessee is currently ranked as a ‘middle tier’ state with respect to animal protection laws and I want to make Tennessee a ‘top tier’ state,” Griffey said. “ I have frequently seen prosecutors suspending sentences for animal crimes so animal abusers serve no time in jail. My bill would change that and create mandatory sentences as well as mandatory fines, which are currently not in place. Those fines would go to animal shelters, humane societies and animal rescue organizations.”
Among some of the changes the TN PAWS Act seeks to make:

* Creating escalating mandatory minimum sentences and fines for animal abuse and neglect and earmarking the fines to go to law enforcement agencies, shelters, humane societies and animal rescue organizations which assist victimized animals;

* Increasing the penalty for aggravated animal cruelty, animal fighting and beastiality from a Class E Felony to a Class C Felony;

* Requiring individuals convicted of sex crimes against animals to register on the sex offender registry;

* Creating mandatory minimum “cost of care” security bonds to be posted by individuals charged with animal abuse, cruelty or neglect to cover the costs incurred by law enforcement agencies, shelters, humane societies or animal rescue organizations in caring for victimized animals who are the subject of criminal prosecutions;

* mandating prohibition periods whereby convicted animal abusers would be prohibited from owning an animal or residing in a household where an animal is present; and

* making it a crime to create, market, offer to market or sell, or possess depictions of animal cruelty unless it is for religious, political, scientific, educational, law enforcement, humane investigator training, journalistic, artistic, or historical value or involves rodeos, sanctioned livestock events, or normal husbandry practices.

“This bill will not only serve to protect and provide justice for innocent, voiceless animals, but it will also serve to protect humans. It is well established that individuals who victimize animals frequently progress to victimizing children, the elderly, women – anyone they perceive as defenseless and vulnerable. It is a well established fact that most serial killers start with abuse and cruelty to animals and progress from there to humans. In my district just a couple of months ago, a man shot his girlfriend’s child’s puppy because he was mad at his girlfriend. It is just a matter of time before someone like that ends up directing violence towards the girlfriend or the girlfriend’s child,” Griffey said.

Griffey is encouraging anyone who would like to see the TN PAWS Act enacted as law to show up to the Capitol for the hearing on Wednesday afternoon to show support for the bill.

PLEASE contact the subcommittee members and ask them to VETO the bill is these changes are made to it:

Rep. Andrew Farmer, Chairman
(615) 741-4419

Rep. Karen Camper
(615) 741-1898

Rep. Michael G. Curcio
(615) 741-3513

Rep. Clay Doggett
(615) 741-7476

Rep. William Lamberth
(615) 741-1980

Rep. Brandon Ogles
(615) 741-6808

Rep. Antonio Parkinson
(615) 741-4575