MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - In May 2012, FOX10 introduced you to a bill that would strengthen penalties for those convicted of animal cruelty. It didn't pass last session; but because of your support, it's back and gaining steam.
The bill has been reintroduced this year as HB 27. It was supposed to go before the House of Representatives' Agriculture committee Wednesday, February 20, but was tabled until next week.
It looks like the bill is gaining steam, and Representative Joe Faust said it's because of your support. FOX10 started a petition to make that bill law.
Since it began, the petition has gotten more than 4,000 signatures.
"Everywhere I go, people say good luck with your bill," Faust said.
The bill would increase penalties for animal cruelty and redefine what is considered cruelty under current law. It's a bill designed by Baldwin County law student Linda Dooley.
"It's a community bill. It's a state wide bill," said Faust.
Faust held the bill over upon the request of Alfa, the Alabama Farmers Federation. He said it could ask for amendments.
"IF they do anything that would weaken the law, we don't have to accept the amendment. I think this is strong enough that the legislator will see it's a good bill," Faust said.
It will be in committee Wednesday February 27. Committee Chair Representative Chad Fincher (R) Mobile, said he feels confident it will make it out.
"I'm positive. I know well definitely get a bill out of committee. I know it was called over this week to make some changes, but we'll see when it comes to committee next week," said Fincher.
If the bill makes it out of committee, it will be up to your elected officials. Several Mobile representatives are ready to vote yes.
"I support tougher penalties for people that knowingly engage in cruelty to animals," said Representative Jamie Ison.
Representative Jim Barton, who pushed the cockfighting bill, is also on board.
"I support the bill. I believe it has a good chance of passing. I look forward to being a ‘yay' vote on the house floor," Barton said.
Many of the legislators haven't gotten a chance to read through the bill, but support the idea. Representative Randy Wood of Calhoun and St. Claire counties said animal cruelty is a serious issue. From what he has heard, HB 27 is a positive step.
"I'll definitely support strengthening penalties. Let's try and make people more humane," Wood said.
The next step will be the state senate. Faust said Senator Marc Keahey will carry it.
"Once it gets passed the senate, the governor will sign it; and it will be law," said Faust.
FOX10 News tracked down an Alfa lobbyist who said wouldn't comment on the bill. The only thing he would say is representative Faust will have Alfa's recommendations before Wednesday's meeting.
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