2020 Florida Legislative Session

The best way to show legislators that animal protection is an important issue is for animal advocates to communicate with their elected officials. Legislators do care what constituents (voters) think about issues. After all, elected officials generally want to be re-elected, and that means adequately addressing matters important to their constituents.

Please contact your state senator and state representative, let them know you are a constituent and ask them to support the bills described here (you may want to address only one bill or issue in each letter or phone call).

Are you confused by the legislative process? Click to learn How an Idea Becomes a Law.

The 2020 Legislative Session ended on March 13.

Stop the retail trade in iguanas and tegus
Senate Bill 906, introduced by Senator Gary Farmer, and House Bill 1415, introduced by Representative Dan Daley, would add green iguanas and Argentine black and white tegus to Florida’s list of prohibited species, making it unlawful to sell, bring into the state, or possess the reptiles for personal use (current owners of tegus and iguanas would be allow to keep the animals).

Senate Bill 1414, introduced by Senator Debbie Mayfield, and House Bill 777, introduced by Representative Tommy Gregory, would also prohibit the breeding and sale of iguanas and tegus, among other provisions.

It is illegal to buy or sell Burmese pythons and Nile monitors as pets in Florida. It is time to also stop the breeding and sale of tegus and iguanas as pets in Florida.

Status: SB 1414 passed the Florida House and Florida Senate with unanimous votes, and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Life after the laboratory
In 2018, the most recent year numbers are available, over 1,000 dogs and almost 400 cats were used for research and testing at facilities in Florida. When the research or testing is over, most animals are killed. House Bill 181, introduced by Representative Mike Grieco and co-sponsored by Representatives Joe Casello, Anna Eskamani, Margaret Good and Emily Slosberg, would require research facilities to offer these animals up for adoption to an animal rescue organization or animal shelter. Nine states have passed similar bills.

Dogs and cats used in laboratories deserve a chance at life after research and testing!

Status: HB 181 did not advance out of committees.

Cruel trade in shark fins
Senate Bill 680, introduced by Senators Travis Hutson and Joe Gruters, and House Bill 401, introduced by Representative Kristin Jacobs and many co-sponsors, would ban the import, export, and sale of shark fins in Florida. Millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins, an ingredient in shark fin soup. “Finning,” removing a shark’s fins and dumping the injured fish back into the ocean, is banned in Florida waters. But it is legal to sell shark fins in Florida, and a large number of imported shark fins enter the U.S. through Florida ports.

The killing of sharks for fins is cruel and threatens some species with extinction. The trade in shark fins is already banned in 12 states. It’s time for Florida to do the same!

Status: SB 680 passed the Florida House and Florida Senate and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis. In its final form, the bill bans the import of shark fins into Florida, and places new restrictions on the sale of fins.

Pet leasing
Senate Bill 186, introduced by Senator Annette Taddeo, and House Bill 363, introduced by Representative Sam Killebrew, would protect animals and consumers by prohibiting the leasing of dogs and other pets.

Under these deceptive and predatory schemes, pet stores encourage customers to sign lease agreements, with total payments that often add up to more than twice the list price of the pet. If monthly payments are missed, the company has the right to take back the pet.

Status: SB 186 was approved by the Committee on Judiciary with a unanimous vote, but did not progress further before the end of the session. HB 363 did not advance out of committees.

Declawing of cats
Senate Bill 48, introduced by Senator Lauren Book, would outlaw several types of declawing surgeries. The bill includes exceptions for medical purposes, such as disease, injury, or conditions that compromise the cat’s health.

Declawing commonly involves amputation of bones in the cat’s paws. Declawing is a cruel and unnecessary procedure that can result in lasting pain and behavioral problems.

Status: SB 48 was approved by the Committee on Agriculture, but did not progress further before the end of the session. ARFF hopes that this legislation will be reintroduced next year. 

Protecting animals in weather emergencies
Senate Bill 752, introduced by Senator Aaron Bean, and House Bill 705, introduced by Representatives Sam Killebrew and Jackie Toledo, would require that counties that maintain emergency shelters designate at least one shelter where people can go with their pets.

The availability of pet-friendly shelters increases the likelihood that pet owners will evacuate to safety during a hurricane or other emergency.

Status: HB 705 passed the Florida House and Florida Senate with unanimous votes. If signed into law by Gov. DeSantis, the bill will take effect in time for the 2020 hurricane season.

“Allie’s Law”
Senate Bill 1044, introduced by Senator Jason Pizzo, and House Bill 621, introduced by Representatives Dan Daley and Scott Plakon, would require veterinary professionals to report visible signs of animal abuse to law enforcement or animal control.

The measure is named after a dog whose abuse was recognized by a veterinarian but never reported. Click here for more information about “Allie’s Law.”

Status: SB 1044 was reported favorably out of two committees, but did not make it to the floor of the Senate for a vote before the end of the legislative session.

Victims of domestic violence
Senate Bill 1082, introduced by Senator Ben Albritton, and House Bill 241, introduced by Representatives Sam H. Killebrew and David Silvers, would authorize courts in Florida to include pets in domestic violence restraining orders. The legislation would give an abuse victim the right to gain custody of their pet, and to obtain an order of protection keeping abusers away from the animal(s).

The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is well documented. This legislation would provide protection for people and animals in violent homes.

Status: SB 1082 passed the Florida House and Florida Senate with unanimous votes and awaits the Governor’s signature.

Protect Florida’s plants and animals from extinction
Recent changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) weaken protections for threatened and endangered species. Senate Bill 1360, introduced by Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, and House Bill 1067, introduced by Representative Adam Hattersley, would direct the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection to keep the ESA’s vital protections in place for plants and animals in Florida, regardless of new federal rules. The legislation would allow the commission and department to take climate changes into consideration when making assessments, but the commission and department would not be allowed to consider economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected.

Decisions regarding whether a species should be listed as endangered or threatened should be made solely on science, without considering short-term economic costs.

Status: SB 1360 was reported favorably out of two committees, but did not make it to the floor of the Senate for a vote before the end of the legislative session.

Florida’s official state pet
Senate Bill 240, introduced by Senator Kevin Rader, and House Bill 1277, introduced by Representative Richard Stark, would designate shelter animals (“Any shelter animal that resides at or has been adopted from an animal shelter or an animal rescue organization”) as the official state pet.

 Status: SB 240 passed two committees, but made no further progress.

You Can Help

Have you ever spoken to your state senator or state representative? Whether you meet in person or speak on the phone, you could urge your state legislators to support a specific proposal, or simply let them know how important the issue of animal protection is to you.

Click here to find your elected officials.

To win victories for animals, ARFF will need your help during the legislative session. Click here to be added to ARFF’s email list to receive legislative alerts and updates.

Animal Rights Foundation of Florida
PO Box 39352, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33339

Promoting respect and compassion for animals in Florida has been the mission of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida since 1989.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.