Remember Civics 101 where they taught us about the ‘checks and balances’ in our three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial?
Apparently, John Kasich needs a refresher course in state government. Senate Bill 310 (the exotic animal bill we’ve heard so much about) is supposed to address the issues of public safety and animal welfare. Who could be against that, you ask?
Ah, but in politics, nothing is as it seems. This legislation, which was supposed to discourage ‘casual ownership of dangerous wild animals’ actually targets the federally licensed and inspected professional animal facilities.
Repeated requests for an exemption for facilities such as Rolling Ridge Ranch and The Farm at Walnut Creek (Holmes County) and Stump Hill Farms (Stark County) and many others throughout the state have been denied.
If this bill were about “pet” owners, it would not target facilities that are regularly inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure the safety of the public and the welfare of the animals.
Proponents of S.B. 310 testified at committee hearings that S.B. 310 would not have prevented what happened in Zanesville last October, so using Zanesville as justification for the bill seems rather pointless.
Sen. Troy Balderson’s name is on this bill, but we may as well say it was written by Gov. Kasich.
Since when does the governor write legislation for the State of Ohio? For that matter, since when does Jack Hanna and HSUS write it? Since when does the governor dictate to the House and Senate committees which amendments and substitute bills they may and may not adopt?
It is the governor’s job to sign or veto a bill, not write it. He has repeatedly threatened to veto S.B. 310 if the bill is changed.
The respective committees heard compelling testimony from many of the business owners who will be impacted by this legislation. The ‘public’ that is purported to be so in favor of the bill was conspicuously absent from the hearings.
Proponents consisted mainly of animal rights organizations; government agencies; out-of-state “sanctuaries” itching to “rescue” (for a price, of course) animals that will become illegal on Jan. 1, 2014; Ohio Farm Bureau (who seems unable to read and follow their own state policy); and zoos that exist on public donations.
The drive-through animal parks and other USDA licensed facilities whose owners actually pay taxes, vote in Ohio, and earn the money to feed and care for their animals, have been totally disregarded.
In the end, the majority of the House committee succumbed to the governor’s pressure and voted the bill through with only a few minor changes. The four who stood firm and voted ‘no’ on the bill are to be commended.
John Kasich is our governor. He is not our senator, our representative, or our judge. He needs to stop threatening our legislators and let them do the jobs we elected them to do.
Pleasant Hill, Ohio
(The writer is the legislative agent for the Ohio Association of Animal Owners.)