The debate over whether to set up an animal cruelty registry continues.
House Bill 1103 originally required individuals convicted of animal abuse to pay a $100 fee to a nearby animal shelter. When the bill passed the Senate, some of the language was substituted to incorporate Senate Bill 779, which would set up a registry of individuals convicted of animal cruelty — similar to the sex offender registry. Changes to the bill would also allow judges to sentence offenders to take animal cruelty classes, rather than pay a fine of $100 to animal shelters, which Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said “holds [offenders] more accountable.”
Worried about setting up a public registry that may embarrass or stigmatize individuals convicted of animal cruelty, Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, amended the bill to ensure the animal cruelty registry would only be accessible to law enforcement officers and animal control personnel.
Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, emphasized this point on the House floor when he tried to convince the House to concur on Senate amendments: “It sets up a list for law enforcement only.”
But Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, was not convinced. He told members SB 779 "never made it out of committee, much less the Senate floor,” and urged the House to send HB 1103 to conference in order to discuss the changes made by the Senate.
In a close vote, 63 to 78, the House agreed with Miller and sent the bill to conference.