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Colorado lawmaker voluntarily kills pet registration and fees bill in wake of outcry

Kefla, a 3 month old pit bull, awaits vet care with her owners Emilia Martinez, left, and Malik Youngblood, right, outside the Convention Center in Denver, on July 16, 2023. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/TNS)
February 09, 2024

A Democratic state lawmaker voluntarily killed her own bill Thursday over a wave of criticism –and some threats — sparked by the proposal to require Colorado pet owners to register their animals and pay fees.

The bill, HB24-1163, would have required pet owners to pay a small, per-animal annual fee to support shelters across the state. The fee component attracted attention and drew criticism on social media, particularly from conservative commentators.

The blowback prompted Rep. Regina English, the bill’s sponsor and a Colorado Springs Democrat, to request that the bill be shelved at a special Thursday morning meeting of the House’s Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee. The committee approved her request unanimously.

English told the committee that she had wanted to support overwhelmed animal shelters and help abandoned and unadopted pets. The bill had expanded beyond its original form to cover a menagerie of different animals, she said, including fish — a detail that had helped fuel the outcry.

“This expansion — and while well-intentioned to be inclusive of as many pets (as possible) — has understandably led to confusion and concern among our constituents,” English said. “The sentiment of ‘What in the world?’ has been echoed in our communities, reflecting a disconnect between the bill’s original intent and its current form.”

Rep. Mike Lynch, a Wellington Republican, jokingly thanked English for bringing the bill because it gave him “the opportunity to talk to more people in the state than I have ever talked to in my legislative career.”

After the meeting, English said in an interview that she had received threats over the bill and that she was surprised by the extent of the blowback.

The measure wasn’t one of her priority proposals for the year, she said, and it had no other sponsors in either the House or the Senate.


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