Tag Archives: legislature

Massachusetts: New state law will nullify cities’ BSL

Reports out of Lowell and Worcester, MA, indicate that the breed-specific ordinances in both cities—and by extension, any other MA city with BSL—will be nullified by the new MA state law when it goes into effect on October 31. The new state law prohibits municipalities from regulating dogs based on breed.

Many attorneys in MA seem to agree that MA “home rule” does not allow city ordinances to conflict with state law. Even if cities do not officially repeal their BSL, the laws will be preempted and nullified by the new state law when it goes into effect.

Tracking page for MA S.2192: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

New state law could maul Lowell’s pit-bull ordinance

By Lyle Moran, lmoran@lowellsun.comlowellsun.com

Updated: 08/09/2012 08:18:00 AM EDT

LOWELL — […] City Manager Bernie Lynch told The Sun that the city’s Law Department is reviewing the new animal-control legislation to determine whether it affects Lowell’s ordinance. […]

“It seems like it may have an impact on whether the pit-bull ordinance is sustainable,” Lynch said.[…]

Full article retrieved 8/12/12 from http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_21271643/new-state-law-could-maul-lowells-pit-bull

Worcester pit bull regulations nullified

By Scott J. Croteau TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
scroteau@telegram.com

WORCESTER — An animal control law signed by Gov. Deval L. Patrick includes language that effectively nullifies Worcester’s pit bull ordinance.[…]

City Solicitor David M. Moore said he will have to review the new law and report on it to City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. Even if the city doesn’t repeal the pit bull ordinance, enforcing it will be moot when the state law takes effect. […]

Jonathan S. Rankin, a Framingham-based lawyer and chairman of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Animal Law Practice Group, said the new law says communities can make additional ordinances as long as the language is not breed-specific.

“I think these breed-specific laws have to be changed or they will be invalidated,” he said. […]

Full article retrieved 8/12/12 from http://www.telegram.com/article/20120807/NEWS/120809656/1116

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Maryland update: House will consider bills to reverse breed-discriminatory court decision, Aug 13

The Maryland Senate has passed the “dog bite bill” in an attempt to resolve the many problems caused by the recent Tracey v. Solesky court decision. Among other changes, the Senate bill moves all dog owners to strict liability, regardless of the dog’s breed.

The Maryland House will take up the issue on Monday, August 13. There are four different House bills dealing with this issue: HB 2, HB 3, HB 4, and HB 5. These bills are all slightly different. Only HB 2 moves all dog owners to strict liability (like the Senate bill). The other three proposals would restore common law liability.

There’s no question that most Maryland legislators DO want to undo the Solesky court decision. But they don’t all agree on how that should be done. Some legislators and individuals have valid concerns about the Senate bill and the hasty move to strict liability. Others feel that something is better than nothing. All are concerned that the effort to fix the court ruling will fall apart if they can’t reach consensus.

The House bills can be read here:
HB 2: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0002f.pdf
HB 3: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0003f.pdf
HB 4: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0004f.pdf
HB 5: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0005f.pdf

Maryland: Bill to repeal breed-discriminatory court case to be discussed Aug 9 & 10

The second special session of the Maryland legislature begins on August 9. As we hoped, the legislature will attempt to resolve the many problems caused by the recent Tracey v. Solesky court decision, which imposed strict liability on “pit bull” owners and their landlords but did not do the same for owners of any dog that does not look like a “pit bull.” (The court decision is not in effect yet.)

Unfortunately, we have not been able to get the draft bill, so we can’t talk specifics. According to the bill authors, the proposed bill would impose strict liability on all dog owners, regardless of their dog’s breed, and would reverse the liability that was imposed on landlords. We do not know whether the new draft bill includes a clause to prohibit municipalities from passing BSL, as one of the draft bills from the first special session did.

Special sessions are extremely short, and already concerns have been raised that there’s not enough concensus among legislators to get the bill pushed through so quickly:

Although Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he’s “optimistic” that a bill could pass during the special session that starts Thursday, he cautioned that the issue is complex and could be derailed if opposition arises.

Frosh said that he does not believe there would be time in a special session to consider multiple bills and amendments. “If there is not a broad consensus, this is not going to happen,” he said.

Retrieved 8/8/12 from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-08-06/news/bs-md-special-session-weighs-pit-bulls-20120806_1_pit-bull-dog-owners-aileen-gabbey

Maryland residents can contact their Senators and Delegates and urge them to take action to reverse the Solesky decision. Supporters can also attend the following committee hearings to show their support in person.

The following meetings are scheduled:

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
When: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Where: 2 East, Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD
Subject: Hearing on 3lr3512 – Civil Actions – Liability for Personal Injury or Death Caused by Dog (Senators Frosh, Raskin, and Gladden)
NOTE: Anyone wishing to testify on this bill must sign the witness register before 12:45 P.M. If you have written testimony, please submit 20 copies to the staff for distribution by 12:00 P.M.

House Judiciary Committee
When: Friday, August 10, 2012 at 1:30 P.M.
Where: Room 100, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD
Subject: Bill Hearing on Pit Bull Legislation

The following rally is also planned for August 9 in Annapolis. Please visit the link for all the details. https://www.facebook.com/events/441943509183265/

Good luck in Maryland!

Massachusetts S.2192 signed by governor

Massachusetts S.2192, a comprehensive overhaul of Massachusetts state animal control laws, was signed by the governor today. The new law specifically states: “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.”

In essence, BSL will be illegal in Massachusetts when the law goes into effect at the end of October. Massachusetts joins 12 other U.S. states that prohibit municipalities from passing breed-specific laws.

The big question now is: What about the cities in Massachusetts that currently have BSL in place?

The answer is not as cut and dry as you’d expect. State law generally preempts (takes precedence over) municipal ordinances, but there are several ways that cities can get around the preemption and keep their BSL, most commonly using “grandfathering” (as happened in Miami-Dade) or “home rule” (as is common in Colorado and Illinois) justifications. In particular, every state handles home rule a bit differently; some states severely limit home rule powers, while other states are more flexible. From what I’ve gathered so far, there are differing opinions about whether cities that are in conflict with the new state law (e.g. Boston) can use home rule as a viable defense of their BSL.

I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but unfortunately, we may have to wait for a better answer. I expect that, as news of the law’s passage sinks in, city councils across the state will consult with their attorneys to figure out what, if anything, they need to do in response to the changes in state law. Legislators and judges may also weigh in. We’ll know more as time goes on.

In the meantime, congratulations to Massachusetts for sweeping animal control reform and for making a stand against BSL.

Law bans breed-specific dog regulation

By Steve Decosta, sdecosta@s-t.com
August 02, 2012 6:06 PM

With New Bedford Animal Control Officer Manny Maciel by his side today, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a new, broad-based animal control bill into law, that, among its many provisions, prevents the regulation of dogs based solely on breed.

Stating clearly that “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed,” the legislation ends debate in New Bedford and elsewhere on whether pits bulls should be banned.

The law further states that “no dog shall be deemed dangerous … based upon the breed of such dog.” […]

Full article retrieved 8/2/12 from http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120802/NEWS/120809957

Many thanks to the MSPCA for keeping us up to date. Visit their page to learn more about the many changes that this bill brings to Massachusetts: http://www.mspca.org/about-us/press-room/2012/mspca-angell-joins-governor.html

Bill tracking page: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

All alerts for S.2192: https://stopbsl.org/?s=S.2192

Massachusetts S.2192 moves forward (would prohibit BSL statewide)

UPDATE 8/2/12: S.2192 was signed by the governor today and will become effective in 90 days. Congratulations to Massachusetts!


Massachusetts S.2192 is a bill that overhauls Massachusetts state animal laws. It includes several clauses that would prohibit municipalities in MA from passing breed-specific laws. S.2192 is on track for third reading in the House.

The most recent amendment to S.2192, which is House document 4266, contains two clauses that would prohibit BSL:

Section 157. (a) Any person may file a complaint in writing to the hearing authority complaining that a dog owned or kept in the city or town is a nuisance dog or is a dangerous dog; provided, however, that no dog shall be deemed dangerous: […] (ii) based upon the breed of such dog; […]

No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.

You can read the full text of the proposed bill, and amendments here: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

We do not not know whether the bill would be retroactive (e.g. would force MA municipalities that currently have BSL to repeal those laws).

All alerts for S.2192: https://stopbsl.org/?s=S.2192

Thanks to Carolyn for letting us know that S.2192 has moved forward.

Maryland: OAG says court decision on “pit bulls” is not in effect

The Maryland Court of Appeals decision in Tracey v. Solesky, which put “pit bull” owners and landlords under a strict liability scheme, is now under appeal. Until the appeal is ruled on, the court decision is on hold.

Meanwhile, the Maryland legislature does not appear likely to meet for a second special session this summer. The so-called “pit bull task force” of the Maryland legislature will continue to meet and discuss legislative remedies for the discriminatory decision. We expect them to file a bill that would effectively nullify the court decision in December/January when the Maryland legislature reconvenes.

Pit bulls not ‘inherently dangerous’ just yet

Md. attorney general’s office says controversial court ruling must survive appeal before being applied

By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
7:29 p.m. EDT, July 11, 2012

A controversial court ruling in April that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” is not yet in effect and must survive an appeal before it can be applied as Maryland law, according to an opinion released this week by the state attorney general’s office.

The opinion, written by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe in response to a request from Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur for advice on how to understand the ruling, says a motion for reconsideration of the ruling now before the Maryland Court of Appeals “delays the effect of the decision.”

In April, the state’s highest court held that pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds are different from other dogs in that they are dangerous by nature. The ruling increased the liability of pit bull owners and others with a modicum of control over the animals, such as landlords, by removing the need for those bringing suit after a dog attack to prove they knew the dog had a history of being dangerous. That proof was previously required and is still required for other breeds. […]

Full article retrieved 7/12/12 from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-pit-bull-ruling-20120711,0,7289478.story

New York: Assembly Bill 3507 would prohibit insurance breed discrimination

New York Assembly Bill 3507 prohibits insurers from refusing to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium for homeowners’ insurance policies based on the breed of a dog owned.

Insurers may still take any of these actions if the individual dog has been declared dangerous. (In New York, dogs cannot be declared dangerous based on breed.)

This bill has passed the Assembly and is now on the Senate side.

New York residents, please contact your Senators and show your support for this bill! Find your Senator here: http://www.nysenate.gov/

Bill tracking page: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A03507&term=&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Text=Y

Many thanks to North East Animal Rescue for the info.