CLSA Helps Lead the Charge to Defeat Two Bills Restricting Research and Education Using Animals
By Brett Johnson
May 20, 2019
Two bills sponsored by the organizations Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation were defeated by CLSA and fellow research-and education-focused stakeholders in recent weeks.
First, Assembly Bill 1586, authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, died in the Assembly Committee on Education. The bill did not receive enough votes to move out of the committee despite a tepid “do pass” recommendation from the Chair, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, who, despite the recommendation, voted “No” on the bill along with three other members of the committee. It was co-sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation, both of whom also sponsored the defeated AB 889 (Maienschein), which would have required detailed reporting on nearly all animal research conducted in California in a publicly searchable database.
AB 1586 would have prohibited students in any California private or public school from kindergarten through twelfth grade from performing animal dissection. Current law allows students to opt out of performing a dissection if they have a moral objection. Those students instead are required to complete an alternative assignment to gain the same knowledge.
CLSA was opposed to the bill due to its potential negative impact on the number of students pursuing an education in STEM fields (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and in light of the existing protections for students wishing to not participate in animal dissection. The California Teachers Association also strongly opposed the bill because it restricted teachers’ ability to develop their own lesson plans and due to questions regarding the cost and availability of technological alternatives to animal dissection. CLSA’s oppose letter on AB 1586 is available here.
Second, Assembly Bill (AB) 889, introduced by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, was pulled from the Assembly Health Committee prior to a vote and consequently missed necessary deadlines to be considered for passage this year. The bill would have required detailed reporting on animals used in research in California. The total number of animals kept during the previous year and the purposes for which each animal was used would have been required to be reported – with the State Department of Public Health making that information publicly available online in a searchable database. The bill would have also removed the exemption for persons who keep or use animals for training, such as veterinary schools, or in cosmetics research, among other things.
The proponents of the bill contended that there was no state or federal system for accurate reporting of animals used in research and assert only ten percent of the animals used in the research are covered by the Federal Animal Welfare Act.
CLSA, along with numerous institutions conducting research across the state, aggressively opposed the bill. CLSA and our partner institutions recognize the need for ensuring humane care for the laboratory animals in the research and assure our industry strives to remain in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. The bill could have prove detrimental to research being done and could have impeded progress in the biomedical field, while posing a significant safety risk to researchers across the state.
Both bills will be eligible for revival in the legislative process next year, which is the second year of the two-year legislative session. CLSA hopes to maintain our successful opposition coalitions should the legislation gain traction next year and asks any CLSA members interested in action on the aforementioned issues or who would like further information to reach out to Oliver Rocroi, CLSA’s Vice President of State Government Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brett Johnson, CLSA’s Senior Director of Policy & Regulatory Affairs (email@example.com).