Animal cruelty bill passes House, 54-15

Today, the House Floor discussed the animal cruelty bill that has been going through the legislature. In past sessions, felony animal cruelty legislation has died, usually quite quickly, leaving South Dakota as the last state with a provision for felony penalties for egregious cruelty to animals.

SB 46, this year’s bill, was put forward by a more complete coalition and came with the backing of the large ag groups who have historically supported such legislation. In large part, that support comes because of the threat of an initiated measure which could be a lot worse. SB 46 has a good number of exemptions, including most agricultural practices and rodeo practices, making it possible for it to have passed this far.

There’s been a great deal of discussion about amending out the words “humane society” because of the controversy over the national Humane Society’s stand on agriculture, despite the difference between that organization and local humane societies and the work they do on a local level. The amendment failed.

The other part of this bill that really shores up ag protections are the definitions of what “ag” practices are, which haven’t been defined in the past. Those definitions significantly help clarify the law.

The bill passed the House quite neatly, with 54 voting for it and only 15 voting against.

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