Sen. Jason Brodeur wants to bring home a bill that would ban cat and dog sales at pet stores.
The Sanford Republican’s proposal (SB 1138), filed Monday, is part of a growing effort to curb puppy mills and breeders with inhumane practices.
Last year, some lawmakers wanted to keep retail stores on a leash by requiring licenses to sell those furry friends. However, Brodeur and Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew this year instead hope to outright ban selling cats and dogs. Additionally, it would tack on a $500 fine for each pet for sale.
The ban would not prevent individuals from selling pets they have bred and raised themselves, but retail stores selling dogs or cats would constitute a noncriminal offense. Under the proposed law, local governments could create harsher restrictions at the city or county level.
Pasco County in September became the ninth county in Florida to pass a local ban. More than 50 cities in the state have also passed similar ordinances, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Killebrew filed his bill (HB 45) in December.
In an attempt to bridge the gap caused by the patchwork of local regulations, bills filed for the 2020 Session would have required pet stores to hold licenses to sell pets and would have demanded veterinarians inspect breeders for humane conditions.
But that legislation died at the end of the Session without lawmakers considering it. Senators passed over that bill after twice scheduling it for hearings, and House leadership never scheduled companion legislation for a hearing in that body.
Hialeah Republican Sen. Manny Díaz said last year that he filed his bill after local governments moved toward outright bans after struggling to regulate bad breeders.
“So we have to have the philosophical argument,” he said. “Pets aside, are we going to live in a free market society where now we’re going to allow different municipalities to start banning businesses. So what’s next? Is it beauty salons, is it gyms, is it gas stations? Where does it stop?”
However, Brodeur and Killebrew’s legislation, which would take effect in July, would follow in local governments’ footsteps.
California was the first state to pass a statewide ban, and Maine and Maryland joined them last year.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist had been part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to tighten licensing requirements for breeders. In May, the department made those reforms.