As we come to the end of 2023, we reflect on the legislative and political progress made by our movement for animals. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed four animal protection bills this year. These newly passed laws will expand veterinary access, keep families and pets together during extreme weather events, and support alternatives to animal testing methods. Each law is a humane accomplishment to celebrate—and we should ask ourselves who made their passage possible.
The 2023 California Humane Scorecard is a crucial tool for uplifting legislators who voted in support of pro-animal legislation. Alternatively, the scorecard holds legislators accountable who chose not to vote humanely. HSLF invites you to review your representatives’ choices on the five key animal protection bills graded by the scorecard.
By uniting behind candidates who know the stakes for the most vulnerable among us, we can work towards a cruelty-free world.
The following items are scored in the 2023 California Humane Scorecard:
- Alternative Animal Test Methods: A ✓ indicates a vote in favor of AB 357, a bill related to alternative animal test methods. AB 357 updates California law regarding the use of non-animal testing methods for the development of certain products. Specifically, the legislation continues to prohibit certain manufacturers and contract testing facilities from using traditional animal test methods when an alternative method exists; updates the definition of alternative test method to include alternatives accepted for use by federal agencies; and requires reporting of alternative test and animal test usage to the Department of Public Health and the Department to make available to the public the reported information. AB 357 was sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D) and signed into law.
- PAWS Act: A ✓ indicates a vote in favor of AB 1215. AB 1215 would have officially established the Pet Assistance with Support (PAWS) Program to award grants to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters for food and basic veterinary services for pets owned by individuals experiencing homelessness or escaping domestic violence. This legislation, which was sponsored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and passed both chambers, was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
- Telemedicine: A ✓ indicates a vote in favor of AB 1399. This bill increases access to veterinary care for California pet owners by allowing California-licensed veterinarians to establish new relationships, known as veterinarian-client-patient-relationships (VCPRs), with clients and their pets under certain conditions using electronic means. Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D) and Josh Lowenthal (D) served as the sponsors of this legislation, which was signed into law.
- Registered Veterinary Technicians: A ✓ indicates a vote in favor of SB 669. SB 669 codifies California Veterinary Medical Board regulations and makes several necessary changes that will empower veterinarians to delegate a limited number of their duties that specifically relate to controlling disease and parasites in pets and reducing public health risks to registered veterinarian technicians (RVTs). Senator Dave Cortese (D) introduced this bill, which was signed into law.
- Emergency Shelters: A ✓ indicates a vote in favor of AB 781. This bill will help families with pets stay safe during natural disasters and extreme weather events. The legislation requires local governments to designate pet-friendly sheltering sites, so families have a safe and comfortable place to go during extreme weather events. Assemblymember Maienschein also introduced this measure, which Governor Newsom signed into law.
HSLF acknowledges the limitations of judging legislators based on a few votes and co-sponsorships on animal issues, however important those issues may be. In some cases, legislators must miss votes for unavoidable reasons, such as a death in the family, illness, birth of a child or emergency in their district. In assessing the record of your state-level representatives, and your strategy for engaging them in the future, do consider unrecorded matters such as committee participation and performance, House or Senate leadership posts, and constituent service and responsiveness.
Scorecards are an important tool for moving the animal protection agenda forward in California, but it only works if it is put into action by supporters like you. Your continuous advocacy for our furry and feathered friends is the reason why the animal protection movement is alive. Let’s keep building on our victories by voting humanely in 2024.