Target: Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Jim Rice
Goal: Support making second-offense animal cruelty a felony in Idaho.
Republican Ilana Rubel proposed a bill to the senate which would make the second offense of animal cruelty a felony. In addition to this, the bill better defines torture and would make it a first-offense felony if a minor was present at the time the act was committed. However, farm groups in Idaho oppose the bill and are trying to ensure it does not pass into law.
Rubel is baffled by the opposition as her bill specifically excludes production agriculture. In effect, she is receiving resistance from a group the bill does not affect at all. She stated that as a strong supporter of animal agriculture she had taken extra precautions to ensure the agriculture community was not affected by the bill.
Rubel’s bill bears some similarity to a bill that was introduced in 2013 by Ken Andrus, Chairman of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee. Like Rubel’s, his bill made a second animal cruelty offense a felony and better defined torture. It failed because of opposition from farm groups. The new Chairman, Senator Jim Rice, has since said that he will not hear any bill similar to the one Andrus passed in 2013. Instead, he wants to treat animal cruelty as a mental illness, which cannot be solved by mere jail-time.
While there is some truth to this, it should not prevent the state from putting stricter laws in place to punish convicted criminals. Oftentimes, people who commit acts of sexual assault and murder are also suffering from mental illnesses, but strict criminal laws are in place for them too. Animal rights should get the same treatment.
Dear Senator Rice,
I am writing this letter to express my concern regarding a bill that was recently proposed by Republican Illana Rubel. Her bill would amend other animal rights laws in Idaho by putting in place stricter provisions. These include making the second offense of animal cruelty a felony, as well as define animal torture.
In 2013, a similar bill was put in place by Ken Andrus, Chairman of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee. The bill failed due to opposition from farm groups, similar to what Rubel is facing now. It also failed as a result of opposition from your predecessor. Similarly, you have taken a stance against any bill bearing a resemblance to Andrus’. This would include Rubel’s bill, as well.
I understand your position that people who commit animal cruelty should be psychologically evaluated and treated. However, this should not preempt putting stricter laws in place to deter people from committing animal cruelty and to punish those who do.
Oftentimes, people who commit acts of sexual assault and murder are also suffering from mental illnesses but strict criminal laws are in place for them too. Animal rights should get the same treatment. I urge you to support Rubel’s bill to tackle the growing problem of animal cruelty in Idaho and America at large.
[Your Name Here]
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