After engaging Chairman Miley’s office at the WV House Judiciary Committee, and Chairman Craig’s office at WV House Natural Resources Committee the US Herpetoculture Alliance has been informed that it is “highly unlikely” that SB 466 and HB 2209 will move forward. West Virginia herpetoculturists can breathe a sigh of relief, both of these bills will be dead tomorrow. They will both hit deadlines for reporting out of committee on April 11, 2013.
HB 2209 was “dead on arrival.” Once introduced into the WV House of Delegates, it never found any traction once it was referred to committee. However, SB 466 was a much different story and gave us quite a scare.
SB 466 is a broad sweeping, ambiguous ban on exotic animals. “Dangerous Wild Animals” are defined as “mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic life, including hybrids, that are dangerous to humans, other animals and the environment due to their inherent nature.” Wildlife, agricultural animals and domestic animals already defined by West Virginia statute are exempted. However, SB 466 vests authority to a Dangerous Wild Animal Board (the “Board”) to list dangerous wild animals pursuant to administrative rule making authority.
SB 466 was sponsored by Senate Majority Whip William Laird. Senator Laird is also Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee to which SB 466 was referred. SB 466 was reported favorably out of Natural Resources on March 6th, the same day it was introduced and referred to committee. Subsequently SB 466 was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee without notice nor testimony on April 2nd where it then moved to the Senate floor and passed by a vote of 32-1 on April 3rd.
SB 466 then crossed over to the House of Delegates and was referred to the House Judiciary and Finance Committees. This was where the Herp Alliance was able to more fully engage the bill. The Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt, engaged in a number of conversations with Chairman Wiley’s office at House Judiciary. Wyatt had strong grass roots support from Joe Perdue, Greg Stephens and dozens of Herp Alliance supporters from West Virginia Reptile Watch, a WV watchdog group of businessmen and herp enthusiasts. Wyatt was told that SB 466 had not been assigned to an attorney at House Judiciary, and didn’t likely have enough momentum to run prior to the April 11 deadline. The only way SB 466 could move forward is to be reported out of the Judiciary committee, and then be reported out of the Finance committee by tomorrow. That is NOT likely to happen.
The Herp Alliance would like to thank West Virginia Reptile Watch and it’s leaders Joe Perdue and Greg Stephens for a job well done! Tomorrow will be a great new day in West Virginia!