[ SHOWGSD-L ] A report from the front lines in CA.

  • From: "Ginger Cleary" <cleary1414@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Showgsd-L@Freelists. Org" <showgsd-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 21:05:45 -0400

From CFA Legislative Liaison.....

 Ginger Cleary,Rome, GA  ww.rihadin.com <http://www.rihadin.com>
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo
the fatigue of supporting it.  ~Thomas Paine
Member GSDCA
Member Sawnee Mtn Kennel Club
GA Director Responsible Dog Owners of the Eastern States.

-----Original Message-----

          Hi All,

As you've heard by now, AB 1634 is dead for this legislative session.
However, it can be taken back to the CA Senate Local Government Committee in
January 2008 with amendments. Or it can be reintroduced as a new bill in
2008 in the Assembly. The long version of today's events (from my cynical
point of view)...

This morning on the radio Lloyd Levine indicated he had withdrawn AB 1634.
Not true. He had his verb tense slightly wrong. He planned to withdraw it
*if* it stumbled in committee. However he intended to, and did, make his
full presentation to the CA Senate, Local Government Committee. I think he
was just hoping to catch us with our pants down. Or this may have been as
cover in case he lost at the hearing, so he could claim it was what he
always planned to do. Before the hearing in the interview he also "let it
slip" that he had dropped his reliance on the Santa Cruz law as a good
example of what he was trying with AB 1634. Another bit of disinformation.

I got there over 1 1/4 hours early, and there was already a long line to get
into the building. It was standing room only in the halls outside the
hearing room, which filled to capacity quickly. (Jean Grimm did a great job
of blocking and got us both into the hearing <g>). Those who couldn't get
in watched from another room across the hall or in the basement on closed
circuit T.V.

At the hearing Levine began with accusing the opposition of misrepresenting
the success of the Santa Cruz mandatory S/N law. (His earlier statements
that he would *not* be relying on Santa Cruz now seems like a ploy to
influence our presentation. It didn't work.) He attacked his opponents as
unreasonable and unwilling to compromise. He continued to misrepresent his
bill and it's provisions, as well as the qualifications of his speakers in
support of the bill.

Speakers for our side included Joan Miller, who stuck to the facts and our
concerns about the law. There was a presentation of the OFFICIAL reported
data from Santa Cruz according to official State records, which was compared
to the numbers Levine and his side were using. Levine's numbers and the
truth were not even close (lots of nice big charts showing the difference
between the official government figures and Levine's claims). A
presentation was made including over 700 organizations opposed to the bill
that had been left off the official oppose list due to the time constraints
when they skipped the first Senate committee. Police dogs, service dogs and
other working dogs were discussed as reasons to oppose the bill. And, of
course, Lassie was there to come to the rescue....<g>

After both sides presented their allotted 20 minutes committee member and CA
Senator, Christine Kehoe (D- San Diego) acted as spokesperson for Levine.
She peppered his speakers with "softball" questions to allow them to speak
beyond their time limit. Levine tried to talk the committee into passing
the bill and was having no luck. Kehoe tried to help him but the committee
was firm. He tried to discuss some "off the cuff" amendments that he
thought would placate the committee and get a pass. [This was the same
tactic he used in the Assembly in committee and during the final floor

However, this time no one but Kehoe was willing to buy it. The rest of the
committee wanted to see the amendments before they voted. Levine even joked
that this was being recorded and they could come back to him if he lied
about the amendments. But they were having none of it. Having failed in
his attempt to mislead the opposition, and failing to convince the committee
to accept amendments sight unseen, he agreed to withdraw the bill until he
could bring back the amended version in January 2008. (We subsequently
discovered he had already discussed his "off the cuff" amendments with
lobbyists and a newspaper before the committee hearing. It was also clear
that his "impromptu" suggestions for changes had been cleared with his
supporter, Kehoe. If nothing else, he IS a good actor.)

The net result is that the bill is dead for 2007. Period. He can either
amend it and bring it back to the Local Government Committee in January. Or
he can reintroduce it as a new bill in 2008. Opinions are split on which he
might do. Amending a bill that has already drawn so much negative publicity
may not be the course he chooses to take. Starting over with a clean slate
might be easier. But that could be seen as an admission of defeat to his AR
supporters, who may insist he take this bill to the bitter end. We'll have
to wait and see which course he takes.

It's hard to tell how much Levine is really planning to amend the bill, or
which amendments he tossed at the committee he really intends to insert.
But from what I heard it will not help us at all. Essentially he suggested
amending the enforcement provisions of AB 1634 to make it a "secondary"
offense. [What this means is that they have to have suspicion of another
offense first. For example, in some states certain minor offenses like seat
belt laws can't be used as the basis for a traffic stop. The officer has to
stop you for something else to cite you for no seat belt. They can't stop
you just for not wearing a seat belt. The reason for the traffic stop is
the primary offense, the seat belt citation secondary. But there is no
requirement you actually be sited for, or found guilty of, the primary
offense to invoke the secondary one. NOTE: in some states seat belt laws
are primary, some secondary. Don't get confused if your state is

However, it was always assumed that AB 1634 would be used to harass breeders
when contacted by Animal Control for other reasons (over limit, complaint by
neighbor, disgruntled kitten buyer, etc.). It is unlikely any local
government would have the spare time and money to do door to door searches
for unaltered pets. So the promised amendments, even if they developed,
would not make the bill palatable to most of the opposition groups. We
would still be at the mercy of any complaint for any reason as the "primary"
reason for the Animal Control contact. Once they are at your door for any
reason, you would be at their mercy under this law.

WHAT DO WE DO NEXT? Celebrate, party and enjoy a hard fought victory. We
will face Levine again later, but for now we have stopped what could have
been one of the worst laws we've ever faced. Celebrate, but not too long,
for soon we will have to get back to work.

Joan Miller, Sharon Coleman, Jean Grimm and I went to the rally and press
conference after the hearing. Again, Joan was one of the featured speakers
at the rally. We then went to the AKC legislative function in which they
instructed their members on how to "walk the halls" and meet with their
representatives for the rest of the day. I know Joan had at least one more
important meeting planned for today, but I'll leave the details of that one
to her.

One interesting footnote is that Levine is in his third term in the
Assembly, his last for now under CA term limits. He will be running for a
State Senate seat that partially overlaps his current Assembly District.
His competition is another former Assembly representative. Although the
next general election isn't until November 2008, California moved it's
primary up to FEBRUARY. The Senate Seat in dispute is a democratic "safe"
seat, so whoever wins in February will be the new state Senator. If AB 1634
comes back in January, it will be during crunch time for Levine's primary
bid for election to the CA Senate. I'm not sure is this will force him to
become more moderate, to appease the general voters, or more extreme, to
appease his AR/Hollywood financial base. In either case, the timing means
that we may have the opportunity to make his campaign more difficult just as
he's trying to resurrect this bill. Maybe our next course of action is to
make his campaign for election to the CA Senate as difficult as we can? He
may find himself fighting a war on two fronts.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped make this victory possible, but I
can't. With over 700 new organizations who were just added to the oppose
list (in addition to the original list), and over 10,000 letters in
opposition, so many donations to Sy Howard, so many people helping spread
the word, so many people helping in so many ways, I wouldn't even know where
to begin. So instead I'll make this short:

Thank you everyone who helped pitch in and made victory today possible.
Thank you.

George Eigenhauser
CFA Legislative Information Liaison

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