Archive for the ‘Louisiana State Legislature’ Tag

James Gill: Bill just a favor to local business via @theadvocateno   Leave a comment

Click on picture to go to video.

Click on picture to go to video.

Advocate story
June 05, 2014

Opinions in the legislature were divided over whether a 550-pound Bengal tiger can find happiness living alone in a cage outside a truck stop in Grosse Tete.

No wonder Louisiana is in a pickle. A question that could not be regarded as worth debating in rational circles ate up hour after hour as the session neared its end. If legislators really wanted to know what Tony the Tiger thinks of his current accommodations, they needed only to imagine how they would like living in a cage, or in Grosse Tete or outside a truck stop, let alone all three.

Perhaps you think it a colossal waste of time even to consider a bill exempting truck stop owner Michael Sandlin from a law that bans the “private possession of big exotic cats.” If so, you are not cut out to be a legislator. The bill, after passing the Senate and stirring lengthy and heated exchanges in committee, took up an hour on the House floor, where the state’s $25 billion budget had just zipped through in less than five minutes. Members were reserving their mental powers for the Tony issue.

Naturally, they got it wrong. Any bill intended solely as a favor to an individual business is a perversion of the legislative process, but this one was on its way to Gov. Bobby Jindal after legislators accepted the absurd proposition that it would be an unkindness to release Tony to a huge and remote sanctuary.

Proponents of the bill claimed that animal rights extremists from California were behind the push to wrest Tony away from his tender-hearted owner. If Tony goes, they warned, LSU’s mascot, Mike the Tiger, will be next. It will be only a matter of time, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, warned in committee, before they come after our hunting dogs. Overheated imaginations are common in the Capitol.

Animal League Defense Fund representatives were there in opposition to the bill in committee, making it easier for the good ole boys to call for a united front against meddlesome outsiders. They’ve got some nerve coming down here and asking us to obey our own laws.

The law against private possession of big cats passed the House and Senate unanimously in 2006, and state courts have ordered Tony relocated. Sandlin bought time by filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban, but evidently decided he had a better chance of success in the long run by pre-empting the justice system and getting his friends in Baton Rouge to carve out an exemption.

LSU has had one for Mike since the law was passed. Zoos and wildlife centers were also included on a list of exemptions, to which Ward’s bill added “persons who continuously possessed their animal” since 2006. Thus, though this bill was strictly for Sandlin’s benefit, all long-time owners of lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards and cheetahs are now welcome in Louisiana. If a big cat ever escapes, let us hope it takes refuge in the Capitol grounds.

Sandlin’s family has owned gas stations here and in Texas for many years, exhibiting a succession of tigers to pack the crowds in. It has evidently worked, for Sandlin, by his own account, can afford to spend huge sums on creature comforts and veterinary care. He sees himself as contributing to the preservation of endangered species. He and supporters argue transferring Tony to a sanctuary would be traumatic or even fatal.

At the committee hearing, the Animal Legal Defense Fund wheeled out Pat Craig, director of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, which, one committee member noted, looked from a photograph like the Serengeti Plain. Tigers may have no ancestral affinity for the African landscape either, but we may take it for granted that roaming the sanctuary’s wide expanses would suit a tiger better than breathing in diesel fumes by the I-10 exit ramp. Craig said no cat had ever suffered ill effects from being transported to his place, and Tony would be welcome.

Sandlin, though he says he is devoted to Tony’s welfare, has been frequently cited by the United States Department of Agriculture for neglecting it. Since nobody is at the truck stop overnight, Tony’s current situation also presents an obvious risk to public safety.

If legislators want to do Sandlin a favor, they should just say so and not claim a tiger is better off in a cage. That can only leave us with the uneasy suspicion that they are dumb enough to believe it.

http://theadvocate.com/columnists/9354782-55/james-gill-bill-just-a

Update: SB 250 ~ May 28, 2014   Leave a comment

la seal tony update

SB 250 ( Rick Ward III‘s bill to EXEMPT Michael Sandlin from Louisiana’s Big Cat Law ) is scheduled TODAY  – WEDNESDAY MAY 28, 2014, on the Louisiana House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment agenda.

Meeting starts at 9:30amCST and is viewable here:

http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Agenda.aspx?m=16076

http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Video/WM/HseSWAGIThcr4wm.asp

Actions for Louisiana residents to speak out AGAINST SB 250 can be found here: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/how-we-can-all-help-tony/

For those of who are non-residents, please continue to share links and information in the aforementioned link via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. Thank You!

How We Can ALL Help Tony!   Leave a comment

life sentence

Recap on SB 250, Rick Ward III‘s bill to “exempt certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules” (specifically to allow Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete Louisiana.)

After failing by a vote of 19 Nays – 18 Yeas on April 28th, it was voted on again on May 13th: The Louisiana Senate PASSED SB 250 by a vote of 20 YEAS to 18 NAYS. The bill was then introduced to the House on May 14 and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and Environment.

SB 250 is scheduled for a hearing TOMORROW WEDNESDAY May 21 @ 9:30am. You can view the agenda here: http://house.louisiana.gov/Agendas_2014/May_2014/0521_14_NR.pdf

If you’re a resident of Louisiana PLEASE contact your House Representative and ask them to OPPOSE SB 250, especially if your Representative is a member of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee. List of committee members at the end of this post.

You can also find this list here: http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Cmtes/H_Cmte_NR.asp Just click on your representative’s name for contact information at the link.

Born Free USA also has an Action Alert for LOUISIANA RESIDENTS Targeting the Natural Resources and Environment Committee:
https://secure3.convio.net/bfusa/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=885

(Thank you Born Free USA)

For those of us who are NOT Louisiana Residents, please share the following information so we can reach others.

  • Born Free USA’s Action Alert Targeting the Natural Resources and Environment Committee:

https://secure3.convio.net/bfusa/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=885

  • ALDF’s Post for Tony:

http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/action-alerts/protect-tigers-from-unlawful-captivity/

  • ALDF’s Video for Tony:

http://youtu.be/yGbIUEVE_E0

  • ASPCA’s Action Alert for Louisiana Residents:

http://www.capwiz.com/aspca/issues/alert/?alertid=63198706&type=ST&&from=advocacycenterlanding

  • These petitions are also still open for Tony:

http://www.change.org/petitions/louisiana-state-senate-oppose-sb-250-uphold-louisiana-state-law-prohibiting-private-ownership-of-tigers

http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

Let’s continue positive yet strong advocacy on behalf of Tony and work together to procure him a peaceful life, expert care, a proper home and the respect and dignity Tony and ALL animals deserve.

Natural Resources and Environment Committee
(Name, District, Email)

Dove, Gordon
52
larep052@legis.la.gov

Bishop, Stuart J.
43
bishops@legis.la.gov

Armes, James K.
30
armesj@legis.la.gov

Billiot, Robert E.
83
billiotr@legis.la.gov

Chaney, Charles R.
19
chaneyb@legis.la.gov

Connick, Patrick
84
connickp@legis.la.gov

Foil, Franklin J.
70
foilf@legis.la.gov

Garofalo, Raymond E.
103
garofalor@legis.la.gov

Gisclair, Jerry
54
gisclairj@legis.la.gov

Guinn, John E.
37
guinnj@legis.la.gov

Harrison, Joe
51
harrisoj@legis.la.gov

James, Edward C. “Ted”
101
james.ted@legis.la.gov

Jones, Sam
50
joness@legis.la.gov

Lambert, Eddie J.
59
larep059@legis.la.gov

Leopold, Christopher J.
105
leopoldc@legis.la.gov

Montoucet, Jack
42
montoucj@legis.la.gov

Morris, James “Jim”
1
larep001@legis.la.gov

Ortego, Stephen J.
39
ortegos@legis.la.gov

Schexnayder, Clay
81
schexnayderc@legis.la.gov

Kleckley, Chuck
36
larep036@legis.la.gov

Leger, Walt III
91
legerw@legis.la.gov

Louisiana Senate PASSES SB 250 ~ TAKE ACTION NOW via @ALDF!   Leave a comment

May 13, 2014: The Louisiana Senate PASSED SB 250 by a vote of 20 YEAS to 18 NAYS. The bill is now “Pending House Referral” Track the bill here: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=224278

TONY NEEDS LOUISIANA RESIDENTS to TAKE ACTION NOW by contacting their Louisiana House District Representative and asking them to OPPOSE SB 250.

Easy contact form: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5154/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17493

You can find out who your Representative is by inputting your address here: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5154/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15813 Please follow up with a phone call. Louisiana Residents can simply say, “Hello. I am one of your constituents and I’m concerned about the welfare of captive tigers in our state. I would like you to vote AGAINST SB 250.”

Read more from Animal Legal Defense Fund:

Protect Tigers from Unlawful Captivity

We just got word from the Louisiana State Senate floor that a very dangerous bill is now one vote closer to becoming law. If it passes, SB 250 would create a “retroactive exemption” to Louisiana’s ban on possessing dangerous wild animals. Specifically, it would allow Tony the Tiger to remain caged as a truck-stop curiosity where he is subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day.

ALDF is on the ground in Louisiana fighting this bill, and we visited Tony the Tiger at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete in May of 2014. Here is the video we recorded:

 

As Louisiana supporters already know, this bill was designed to appease Michael Sandlin, whose captivity of Tony the Tiger was declared illegal by the Louisiana Court of Appeals in ALDF’s successful lawsuit. Sandlin has been repeatedly sanctioned by the USDA for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act and had all of his other truck-stop tigers removed.

Louisiana law rightfully bans private ownership of tigers and other dangerous wild animals. There are a few exemptions, but the law itself is clear. ALDF opposes the possession of big cats because it is inhumane to the animals kept captive, and dangerous to people. Exemptions to the ban on dangerous wild animals waste the state’s resources and put animals in harm’s way simply to accommodate those who want to confine tigers, bears and other animals for entertainment or profit.

Take Action!

This outrageous “exemption” bill will soon be considered by the Louisiana House of Representatives. We need to pull out all of the stops—so are asking all Louisiana residents to contact Louisiana House Members right now to tell them that you strongly oppose any exemptions to animal protection laws.

tony-the-tiger-copyright-JS-2014

House Members need to hear from Louisiana residents only. Please send them a message, urging Louisiana Representatives to vote against SB 250. Join our fight against attempts to subvert animal protection laws in Louisiana. Residents can simply say, “Hello. I am one of your constituents and I’m concerned about the welfare of captive tigers in our state. I would like you to vote against SB 250.”

Take Action Button

For those who are out of state, please join us in sharing this news on social media, so that we can reach more Louisiana residents!

http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/action-alerts/protect-tigers-from-unlawful-captivity/

Louisiana, Stay Safe and Protect Exotic Animals! via @ASPCA   Leave a comment

no place

Thanks  ASPCA for updating their SB 250 Action Alert

This is for Louisiana Residents:
What You Can Do
The Senate is reconsidering S.B. 250 and could vote again as early as TODAY ~ Monday, May 5! Please take action immediately for Tony and Louisiana’s exotic cats.

1. Look up your state senator and see how he or she voted: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=897829

If he or she voted NO on S.B. 250, please thank them. If he or she voted YES, please politely ask them to reconsider their vote and vote NO! You can use the form at the link below to send an email to your state senator today expressing your opposition to this dangerous bill.

http://www.capwiz.com/aspca/issues/alert/?alertid=63198706&type=ST&&from=advocacycenterlanding

2. Then, please follow up with a quick, polite phone call and leave a message asking your state senator to vote NO on S.B. 250. You can look up your state senator’s name and phone number here: http://capwiz.com/aspca/dbq/officials/

Thank you, Louisiana!

NOTE: Actions for Louisiana Non-Residents can be found here: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/update-on-sb-250-keep-the-pressure-on/

Breakdown of the Vote on SB 250 ~ April 28, 2014   Leave a comment

sb 250 vote

How Senators voted yesterday on SB 250: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=897829

Although SB 250 failed to pass, Sen. Ward can bring the bill back up again and indicated he will. You can track the bill here: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=224278

We are asking Tony’s supporters to continue to speak out AGAINST this bill. Visit : https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/update-on-sb-250-keep-the-pressure-on/ for a list of actions you can take to OPPOSE this bill designed specifically to allow Mr. Sandlin to KEEP Tony at the truck stop.

  • You can THANK these Senators for voting AGAINST SB 250 and ask for their continued support against this bill if it comes up for a vote again:

adleyr@legis.la.gov, appelc@legis.la.gov, lasen15@legis.la.gov, smithbuffington@legis.la.gov, chabertn@legis.la.gov, cortezp@legis.la.gov, crowea@legis.la.gov, donahuej@legis.la.gov, erdeyd@legis.la.gov, HeitmeierD@legis.la.gov, kostelka@legis.la.gov, lafleure@legis.la.gov, martinyd@legis.la.gov, morrelljp@legis.la.gov, neversb@legis.la.gov, petersonk@legis.la.gov, risern@legis.la.gov, smithgl@legis.la.gov, walsworthm@legis.la.gov

  • These Senators Voted FOR SB 250 – Sen. Rick Ward’s bill to KEEP Tony at the truck stop; Ask them to reconsider their vote on SB 250 and vote AGAINST it if it comes up again:

alarioj@legis.la.gov, allainb@legis.la.gov, amedeej@legis.la.gov, claitord@legis.la.gov, dorseyy@legis.la.gov, gallotr@legis.la.gov, guillorye@legis.la.gov, johnsr@legis.la.gov, longg@legis.la.gov, millsf@legis.la.gov, morrishd@legis.la.gov, murraye@legis.la.gov, peacockb@legis.la.gov, perryj@legis.la.gov, smithj@legis.la.gov, tarverg@legis.la.gov, thompsof@legis.la.gov, wardr@legis.la.gov

Note: wardr@legis.la.gov is the author of this bill.

  • These Senators were absent. Please ask them to vote AGAINST SB 250 if it comes up again:

brownte@legis.la.gov, whitem@legis.la.gov

CONTINUE TO TAKE ACTION HERE: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/update-on-sb-250-keep-the-pressure-on/

Louisiana Senate votes down bill protecting ownership of truck stop tiger via @BRNola   Leave a comment

tony nola

By Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
April 28, 2014 at 6:00 PM, updated April 28, 2014 at 9:50 PM

A Louisiana state senator hinted the Legislature dodged an unwanted national spotlight Monday (April 29) by narrowly voting down a bill that would let the owner of a truck stop off of Interstate 10 keep his roadside attraction, a Bengal-Siberian mix tiger.

But the sponsor of the bill, which the Senate voted down 19-18, recalled visiting the truck stop tiger as a boy and defended the owner as someone who cared for his tigers and always tried to comply with the ever-changing laws regulating exotic cats in Louisiana.

Senate Bill 250, sponsored by Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, aims to prevent the state from seizing Tony the tiger from Grosse Tete-located Tiger Truck Stop Inc. and its owner Michael Sandlin. Ward can bring the bill back up again and indicated he will.

Ownership and possession of the 14-year-old tiger, which lives in a 40-by-80-foot cage at the stop 20 minutes outside Baton Rouge, is currently up in the air pending litigation. Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin challenged the state’s attempt to remove Tony after the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in April that Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony was invalid because he is not Tony’s legal owner. Tiger Truck Stop Inc. has owned Tony since 2000, but new rules promulgated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries require the owner to be an individual, not a corporation.

Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, handed out photos of the tiger’s cage. “It’s a chain-link fence keeping in a Siberian tiger,” he said. Though pictures of the cage Morrell placed on desks of every senator played to the animal rights angle, Morrell kept much of his argument on the floor geared toward public safety.

Photos of Tony the tiger in his cage (above) at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, were handed out to lawmakers on the Louisiana Senate floor, along photos of the habitat of LSU's Mike the Tiger, (below) for comparison. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, distributed the photos in opposiion of a bill to allow the tiger's owner to keep him there. (Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Photos of Tony the tiger in his cage (above) at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, were handed out to lawmakers on the Louisiana Senate floor, along photos of the habitat of LSU’s Mike the Tiger, (below) for comparison. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, distributed the photos in opposiion of a bill to allow the tiger’s owner to keep him there. (Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

nola 2

He read over the microphone answers to some of the questions, which were part of the lawsuit evidence, posed to Tiger Truck Stop employees in the event that the tiger escape.

One employee said in the event of an escape, after notifying the area, calling animal control and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, he would “get whichever gun I would need.”

Another, asked the first action he would take in the event of an escape, answered, “Rescue everybody.” The same employee, asked what to do if he couldn’t find the tiger, answered: “‘Good question,'” then added, “Somebody’s gonna have to find him.”

The questionnaires also reveled all employees had attended a Wildlife and Fisheries hunter safety course and were trained to carry out the escape plan. Sandlin, though, when asked if he had read the escape plan, answered: “Insurance company wrote escape plan.”

The original version of the bill extended beyond just Tony, to other private owners of exotic cats. It also would have allowed Sandlin to continue to house tigers. But the version the Senate took up Monday makes an exception only for Tony.

“I remember going (to the Tiger Truck Stop) as a kid, growing up,” Ward, 31, said last week. His district includes the town in Iberville Parish where the truck stop is located. Ward said the Sandlins have a good track record of caring for the animals, as far as he knows, and he feel’s his permit should have been pulled because of retroactive rules added to the exotic cat statute. He echoed a concern voiced by Sandlin that relocating the tiger, which Sandlin said likely has six or seven years left, could be traumatic for the animal and possibly risk his health. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” Ward said of sponsoring the legislation.

Matthew Liebman, attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, of Cotati, Calif., said the assertion that relocating Tony could be harmful to the tiger a “sounds like a scare tactic to me.” Liebman represented plaintiffs in the legal battle. Maintaining the tiger in captivity, “and certainly at a truck stop,” raises humane concerns, as well as public safety, he said.

But Sandlin argued the public is “more likely to be attacked by a vending machine or a shopping cart at Albertsons than a wild animal.”

Sandlin said he’s spent more than $250,000 in fighting for Tony in court, and the tiger, at this point, is more of a liability than a financial asset. “But it’s not about the money.

“Over 25 years I’ve been bottle feeding them, wiping their buts, loving them and raising them…Every day I get to see the smiles of people’s faces, especially the children, that love to come stop here and see Tony.”

Sandlin said he was disappointed the addition of the amendment went short of grandfathering in his exhibit for the future, but the bill “would be a victory to get some justice” regarding Tony. He feels he’s been harassed and tried to follow the law, but new rules have “made criminals overnight” of law abiding, responsible private owners.

Morrell also noted the it sets a bad precedent to pass laws the could interfere or reverse rulings from the court system. Tony’s controversy has received interest from around the country and ink from the New York Times, prompting Sandlin to argue it’s mostly vocal activists outside of Louisiana who are advocating against his captivity at the truck stop.

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/tony_the_truck_stop_tiger_bato.html

Update on SB 250 ~ April 23, 2014   Leave a comment

sb 250UPDATE on SB 250:

Current Status:  Subject to call – Senate final passage – Scheduled for 4/23/14

You can track the bill here: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?s=14RS&b=SB250&sbi=y

Please continue to speak out AGAINST SB 250. A list of actions for both Louisiana residents and non-residents can be found here:

https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/actions-to-take-for-tony-regarding-sb-250/

It’s especially important for LOUISIANA residents to call their Senators and ask them to Vote NO on SB 250 to keep Louisiana’s Big Cat Law Strong!

Please take a few minutes to speak out for Tony AGAINST this bill which would “water-down” Louisiana’s Big Cat Law!

Truck Stop Tiger Could Be Denied Legal Protections with New Louisiana Bill via @ALDF   Leave a comment

TONYThe following posted today from the Animal Legal Defense Fund:

Posted on April 22, 2014

Special Exemption Would Keep Tiger at Gross Tete Truck Stop; Advocates Urge Immediate Action

For immediate release:

Contact:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

BATON ROUGE — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is calling on the Louisiana state legislature today to defend existing protections for tigers, in light of a bill that could undo every victory made by the organization on Tony the tiger’s behalf. On April 9th, with less than one day’s notice, the Louisiana Senate Committee on Natural Resources rushed through approval of “SB 250.” SB 250 undermines a 2006 state law that bans private ownership of tigers and other large exotic cats by exempting “certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.” The bill is an attempt to retroactively remove Tony’s protection under the 2006 law, and allow Michael Sandlin to retain possession of Tony—a 14 year old Siberian Bengal tiger confined at Grosse Tete’sTiger Truck Stop by Sandlin in violation of the state ban. The Senate is expected to debate the measure today.

Sandlin has been in illegal possession of Tony the tiger since 2000, displaying him in a cage at the Gross Tete truckstop where he is subjected to harmful fumes and excessive noise. In 2011, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined in the suit by several Louisiana taxpayers, including former Rep. Warren Triche, Jr, the sponsor of the 2006 ban, and has been receiving pro bono assistance from the law firm Baker Donelson. In April 2013, the Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony. In October 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin’s petition and let that decision stand.Triche explained, “Tony’s situation played a principal role in passing the 2006 bill, as he was a perfect example of why such legislation was needed.”

“ALDF’s Court of Appeals victory to help protect Tony the tiger still stands, yet Sandlin continues to try to undermine the law, year after year,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.“This bill was deviously snuck in the back door, with no notice, and is one more attempt from Sandlin to say he is not accountable by law and should receive special favors—Tony deserves the court to uphold the law.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.

http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/truck-stop-tiger-could-be-denied-legal-protections-with-new-louisiana-bill/

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