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2014-2-22

ARC Visits General Assembly

The Members of The ARC of Virginia and Partners were visiting the Virginia General Assembly advocating to protect individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to needed services and avoiding unnecessary institutionalization.  The members and families visited Delegate Roslyn Tyler regarding increased funding intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) waivers.  She is supportive of additional waivers and this concern is now being discussed in the budget bill (HB 30). If you support additional waivers in Virginia, please contact your legislator.

Susan Coon, Lia Tremblay, Joe Tremblay, (standing in back) Tommy Coon, Shannon Farthing, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Anita Dommert, President of the Arc South of the James, and Becky Farthing.

Federal Farm Bill Cracks Down on Animal Fights

By Jessi Gower, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Patrons of animal fights will face harsher consequences thanks to the Agricultural Act of 2014, which recently was signed into law by President Barack Obama.  The legislation – also known as the “Farm Bill” -- includes provisions that not only make being a spectator or bringing a child under the age of 16 to animal-fighting events as federal crimes.

Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, was the force behind the passing of this legislation, and she says these laws will help protect children from being traumatized or desensitized by the cruelty and suffering happening at animal fights.  Cantwell and supporters say they are hopeful the provisions also will help to prevent children and spectators from mimicking such heinous acts on humans.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund stated on its website that animal abusers are five times more likely to harm a person.  This means animal-fight hosts and spectators -- including children -- are more at risk for developing domestic violence tendencies, than people who do not attend these bloody events.  U.S. Human Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle stated he thinks the bill will promote prevention while also giving law enforcement more tools to further shut down the illegal animal-fight industry.     “The farm bill gives us a new hammer in breaking up dogfighting and cockfighting rings,” Pacelle stated in a HSUS news brief, “allowing law enforcement (more legal options to) crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in these sickening enterprises.”

Along with these provisions, the law also omits the controversial King Amendment, which according to the humane society, attempted to nullify state laws and strip states of the rights to ensure the health and welfare of citizens.  This means the law will authorize the purely local sale and consumption of “any agricultural product,”  no matter how dangerous, unethical, environmentally destructive or of concern.  “The farm bill also drives a stake in the heart of the overreaching and destructive King amendment,” Pacelle stated, “which threatened so many state and local laws against inhumane farming practices.”

Because the King Amendment was omitted from the final draft submission, state laws on health, safety and animal welfare currently are safe from nullifications and law changes.

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