In a Kentucky Public Radio report that appeared online just a few hours before today’s Kentucky House Judiciary Committee hearing, Ryland Barton previews Wilson Stone’s bill to close the loophole in Kentucky’s dogfighting law. Unlike its Senate counterpart (Committee Substitute for SB 14), HB 428 respects the rights of hunters and farmers without stopping prosecutors from convicting dogfighters. And according to the same Assistant Commonwealth Attorney who denounced committee substitute language in SB 14, Kentucky prosecutors can use HB 428 to convict dogfighters.
Barton quotes Kentucky Houndsmen Association president Doug Morgan, who had earlier claimed the clean version of SB 14 “could’ve been used to stop us from hunting with dogs” — a wild assertion that did not withstand the scrutiny of prosecutors or animal advocates. At this afternoon’s Judiciary hearing, Mr. Morgan addressed the Committee, but stopped short of reciting his hunters-are-being-persecuted-by-animal-rights-extremists protestation. He merely complained (erroneously) that the Senate’s committee substitute bill was a compromise between hunters and animal advocates, so the House Judiciary should advance it instead of Mr. Stone’s bill.
When crafting the SB 14 committee substitute in late February, legislators neglected to ask Kentucky prosecutors what they think of the “primary purpose” language or the “accredited organizations” exemptions. Barton’s report touches on the Senate Ag Committee’s amendments and points out why prosecutors would find it harder to convict dogfighters if CS SB 14 became law. It also answers the question of whether Kentucky prosecutors can use HB 428 to convict dogfighters. Yes, they can — and given this afternoon’s thumbs-up from the House Judiciary Committee, our Representatives seem to agree, at least for now.