From this week’s House Republican Newsletter:
Bill Increases Regulation on Dog Breeders
This week, the Public Safety committee passed a bill that increases the regulations for dog breeders who are licensed through the USDA.
HF 30 aims to allow state inspectors into federally licensed and regulated USDA dog breeding facilities. Currently, the state and federal government only inspect the facilities that they license. If there is a problem at a state licensed facility, IDALS is the department who would respond. If there is a problem at a federally licensed facility, the USDA handles it.
For both facilities, chapter 717B of the Iowa Code gives local law enforcement the authority to enter facilities in response to animal abuse and neglect.
The impetus for HF 30 is the claim that the USDA is not doing an adequate job inspecting their facilities which allows for bad actors to escape punishment. Claiming that the remedies available through local law enforcement and the Tom Vilsack run USDA are insufficient, the bill supporters seek to allow state enforcement.
If HF 30 becomes law, an interesting situation will be created. You will have federally licensed and regulated facilities now subject to inspection by the state. But what regulations are to be enforced on one of these facilities when a state inspector shows up?
A USDA facility who has agreed to adhere to USDA regulations in order to remain a compliant facility, will now have to make sure they are also complying with the state regulations they are not governed by. This is because when the state receives a complaint and decides to go into one of these federally regulated facilities, they will be critiquing the facility according to state regulations.
This is a situation that has confused members of both parties on the committee. Republicans on the committee offered an amendment that would clear this situation up. When responding to a complaint, the amendment calls for the state inspectors to judge the facility according to the federal regulations that they are governed by. The amendment was rejected along party lines.
Some have pointed to the unfairness that state inspectors be required to know both state and federal regulations. This unfairness is apparently not noteworthy when they attempt to impose this exact situation upon the businesses themselves. So it is unreasonable for the state to have to deal with this but perfectly reasonable to burden the business with it.
Additionally, concerns were raised about the complaint process by both IDALS and members of the committee. The bill provides that IDALS may respond to a complaint it receives in regards to the USDA regulated facilities. But recognizing the contentious nature of dog breeding, some raised concerns about facilities being harassed with baseless complaints.
Republicans responded by offering an amendment that helps protect against baseless complaints by requiring a complainant to file a sworn statement alleging facts which constitute a violation, together with any supporting documents. Again, this amendment was rejected according to a party line vote.
Finally, HF 30 is creating a new responsibility for IDALS without providing them with the funding to fulfill it. This is why since the very beginning, the department has been registered against this bill. A fiscal note provided to the subcommittee members estimates that 2 new fulltime employees will be required to implement the changes of HF 30. This comes at a time when IDALS faces a 10% cut for FY 2010.