The Senate has voted 31-1 in favor of SB 1303, the animal cruelty felony bill proposed by Idaho's livestock industry. "It seems to be a bill not to like," said sponsor Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson. "On the one hand, many who think we should do nothing will not have to defend against a possible initiative. On the other hand, those who oppose the bill because it does not go far enough" may not be satisfied, he said. "This bill strikes a balance that will provide the livestock industry with needed protection," he said, without going to "extremes." The bill would make a third-time offense of the worst form of animal cruelty a felony; any agricultural practice would be exempt. It's intended, in part, to siphon the steam from a voter initiative that would go further, making first-time animal torture a felony and escalating penalties from there.
Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, said, "It is supported by the Idaho Humane Society, so I do urge your yes vote."
Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, cast the only Senate vote against the bill. "You know, fellow senators, this is an interesting piece of legislation," he said. "It's like trying to decide which way to fall out of a tree." Idaho is one of just three states with no felony animal cruelty penalties. "This is a compliment to Idaho - we have never addressed this really before because we don't have a problem," Pearce said. "Other states have had this problem for a long time, and for us to not have addressed it is simply a compliment to Idaho."