With no help from some prominent Democrats, Rep. Patricia Todd's bill (HB141) that allows the
five four* low-cost spay & neuter clinics in the state to continue operating passed the House yesterday. 37 representatives voted against the bill, including Democratic Attorney General candidate Joe Hubbard and House Minority Leader Craig Ford. (Both voted in favor of the same bill in 2013.)
Hubbard's role in this is a real disappointment. He voted against the bill in committee and appeared to be working closely with Buttram to not only feed friendly questions to opponents, but also was an ally when Buttram tried to inject a poison pill amendment on the floor yesterday during debate. Buttram's amendment would have imposed means testing on the use of the clinics.
These clinics run on shoestring budgets and having to collect and verify financial information would be burdensome in the extreme. Opponents didn't even try to hide their real motivation: money.
Rep. David Standridge, R-Hayden, said the clinics have an unfair advantage over veterinarians who provide the same services, and he argued vociferously against the bill. Standridge said he had spoken to many veterinarians who were opposed to it. Standridge did not mention in the debate that, according to his profile page on the Alabama House's website, his son is a veterinarian.
Rep. Dan Williams insisted the non-profit clinics exist to make money.
"Why are these (clinics) being set up if they're not going to make money?" he asked.
Well that's great; we have an Alabama legislator who was previously the mayor of Athens, who doesn't understand the concept of a non-profit organization.
This is the third year that the Legislature is dealing with this issue, and it's time to pass the bill and move along. An estimated 150,000 unwanted animals are killed in shelters each year in Alabama.
Legislators who did stand out as supporters during the debate include:
- Rep. Howard Sanderford (Madison County)
- Rep. Michael Holmes (Elmore & Coosa Counties)
- Rep. Chris England (Tuscaloosa Couny)
- Rep. Patricia Todd (Jefferson County)
In the Senate, the bill will be considered by the Senate Health Committee, where Senator Paul Bussman is a vice-chair. Bussman has been a vocal opponent in the Senate in previous sessions.
Contact members of the Senate Health Committee to ask that a clean bill be voted out of the committee ASAP. Let's get this finished. Don't let the Greedy Vets Club win again!
Learn more about bill opponents in the veterinary community.
* Note: The original post cited five low-cost clinics, but that was a mis-reporting from the information I received from a bill supporter. I got this correction today:
There are only FOUR limited-services, non-profit spay/neuter clinics in Alabama, not five. Dr. Welch of the ASBVME has recently included Mobile's South Alabama Spay and Neuter Clinic as the fifth clinic but SASN is a full-service, for-profit veterinary clinic that offers discounted prices on spay/neuter surgeries. Dr. Welch recently claimed to the House Committee on Boards, Agencies and Commissions that the Mobile clinic is the only spay/neuter clinic in compliance with the Veterinary Practice Act.