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MHC Government Relations Committee Report


YOUR MARYLAND HORSE COUNCIL PUBLICATION by Kimberly K. Egan, MHC Government Relations Committee


T e 2021 session of the Mary- land General Assembly closed on April 12, and we are pleased to report that our Government Re- lations Committee scored several victories this year. As is so often the case, our vic-


tories came in the form of suc- cessful opposition to legislation that would have been contrary to the interests of horses and horse people.


Sunday Hunting Legislators fi led a plethora of


bills this session that would have


signifi cantly expanded Sunday hunting. T e bills covered seven counties: Calvert, Caroline, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, and Worcester. In all but Queen Anne’s and Caroline, the bills, as introduced, would have allowed Sunday hunting hunting on public in addition to private land. MHC supports the shared use of natural resources and as such, we


testifi ed in opposition to each of these Sunday hunting bills. We also encouraged residents in each county to oppose the bills as well. Our eff orts were successful. T e Worcester County bill was withdrawn by its sponsors, and each of the remaining bills died in Senate Committee. A summary of MHC’s position on Sunday Hunting appears on page 36 of this issue.


Cost of Care of Seized Horses (HB 1080/SB 760) A pair of bills this session would have required owners under investiga-


tion for animal cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animal after the animal has been seized, or forfeit all rights to the animal. We opposed these bills because of due process concerns. We also opened discussions with sponsors and the committees in an


eff ort to persuade them to exempt livestock – including horses –from the bills. T e committees each told us that they would propose an amend- ment to that eff ect. In fact, the bills never progressed beyond the initial


hearing, and died in committee. Snare Traps (HB 579)


T is bill would have made it legal to use, sell, possess, or set a snare trap in Cecil County. MHC opposed the bill on the grounds that snares are indiscriminate and inhumane killers of animals large and small, and be- cause snares can cause serious injury and suff ering to horses and hounds. T e bill passed the House but died in Senate committee.


Therapy Horses (SB 284) T e General Assembly passed a bill to add “therapy horses” to the list of


service animals eligible for reimbursement by the State’s Veterans Service Animal Program. T e bill limits eligibility to facilities either certifi ed as Professional Association of T erapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Premier Accredited Centers (PAC) or that have Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) certifi ed professionals on staff . We had opened discussions with the sponsor and with the therapy


horse community to try to expand the defi nition beyond PATH/PAC and EAGALA facilities. T e issue proved complex, however, and we did not arrive at an alternate defi nition that satisfi ed both the equine therapy community and the goals of the Maryland Veterans Administration in time for this session. We are not giving up, however. We will announce a new initiative aimed at therapy horses at the Quarterly Meeting on May 25 and we encourage everyone interested in therapy horse issues to attend.


MHC Quarterly Virtual Meeting Tuesday, May 25, 2021 • Open to All • Via Zoom


6 p.m. Sip & Share 7 p.m. Maryland Legislation: What You Need To Know Cost of Care - Protecting Owners’ Rights When Horses are Seized • Sunday


Hunting and Shared Use of Land • MHC’s proposed 2022 legislation to defi ne a “T erapy Horse”


plus: Proposed Increased Equine Medical Record-Keeping Requirements and invited guests T e Maryland Board of Veterinary Examiners


Regular Business Meeting to Follow join.mdhorsecouncil.org www.equiery.com | 800-244-9580 THE EQUIERY YOUR MARYLAND HORSE COUNCIL PUBLICATION | MAY 2021 | 37


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