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Puppy mill preemption bill postponed – again – by Senate panel

Bill went unheard in committee.

A sea of light blue t-shirts dotted the rows of a committee room in the Senate Monday, showing support for a bill finally getting committee hearings in the back half of the Legislative Session.

Unfortunately for those advocates, it was a wasted trip.

Legislation for state-level regulation of pet stores (SB 1698) did not receive a hearing Monday from the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

The agenda for the committee was jam packed. Though it would have been possible to get the bill a hearing had it been entertained first, lengthy discussions on other bills and a tight time frame precluded discussion of the legislation.

Whether that was a deliberate mechanism to kill the bill or not is likely a matter of conjecture, but the lack of hearing certainly didn’t make it stronger.

This was just the first of three committees of reference for the bill from Hialeah Gardens Republican Sen. Manny Diaz, a bad sign this late in the Session with committees already beginning to wrap up for 2020.

The goal of the bill: to kill so-called “puppy mills.”

The legislation intends, as most state-level preemption bills do, to fill in the gaps created by a patchwork quilt of local regulations.

The legislation requires climate controlled quarters (between 67 and 78 degrees), with an hour of “exercise and socialization” required, and thrice-eekly inspections by a veteranarian.

A licensed veterinarian would drop in three times a week to ensure stores are up to snuff.

The legislation only applies to pet stores, not public or nonprofit shelters. It excludes “hobby breeders” who sell four or fewer dogs or cats a year.

The legislation, along with the House companion bill (HB 1237), sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila, aims to rid the state of so-called puppy mills. Both bills seek to set a uniform standard throughout the state, allowing stores that play by the rules to keep their doors open and freeing them of the stigma brought on by shady operations.

Though dozens of people jammed the center rows of the hearing room waiting to make their case for the Senate bill, their trip was for naught.

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Material from Florida Politics’ Sarah Mueller was used in this post.

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