After three long years, we can finally celebrate the victory of the passage of House Bill 788, the gas chamber bill! The bill passed both the House and the Senate on April 29th, the very last day of the legislative session. With such a controversial bill, it’s not surprising it came down to the final hours of the final day. ….the suspense was almost unbearable.
As you may have heard, our bill was amended in the Senate, Wednesday before last, by Senator John Bulloch. Senator Bulloch changed the bill from going into effect when the Governor signed it into law, to going into effect January 1, 2013. The amendment would have allowed the shelters using gas chambers to continue gassing for 32 more months! This amendment, of course, was unacceptable to our primary sponsor, Representative Tom Knox, and to all the Georgia voters who were asking our state lawmakers to shut down gas chambers immediately.
Representative Knox began a full-court-press on Monday morning of the final week of the legislative session, following the previous Wednesday’s amendment and passage in the Senate. His mission: to get the amendment removed and the revised version of the bill back through both the House and the Senate again. I am not well-enough educated on the legislative process to approximate the amount of effort and time it took Representative Knox to accomplish this unlikely feat, but I imagine it was A LOT of both.
In the end, Representative Knox agreed to an effective date of December 31, 2010, and the bill passed the House by a vote of 125 to 25 and the Senate by a vote of 37 to 8.
Without Representative Knox’s commitment to passage of this bill, it would not have happened. Please consider writing to him to thank him for his hard work and dedication to this cause, and please consider voting for him for State Insurance Commissioner in November. http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/house/bios/knoxTom/knoxTom.html
That said, I do not believe Representative Knox would have been successful if not for the hundreds (or thousands) of calls from Georgia voters to their Representatives and Senators asking for their votes in favor of HB 788. I believe that most of our state lawmakers at the Capitol who voted in favor of the bill did so because they heard from YOU, their constituents, asking for their support of the bill. Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare spoke, and they listened. If you called your legislators, you are responsible for the end of gassing in Georgia. And thanks to you, the initiatives of this grassroots organization will be taken seriously at the Capitol in years to come.
Finally, it’s important that the legislators who voted against the ban on gas chambers are contacted by their constituents who care about the welfare of Georgia’s abused and abandoned pets. Please look at the list of NO votes below. If your Senator or House Representative voted against the bill, please contact him/her and ask why. Let him/her know that animal issues are among the most important to you and that your votes on election day will reflect as much. [NOTE: interesting that several Represenatives of Gwinnett County voters voted NO… ?????? If you live in Gwinnett County, please contact these legislators].
Thanks for reading and for your continued support of initiatives for the humane treatment of animals!
Chamblee Abernethy, co-founder, Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare
LEGISLATORS WHO VOTED AGAINST HB 788:
Senators voting NO [8 of 56] (counties represented in parentheses) http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/votes/sv0941.htm
John Crosby in Tifton (Ben Hill, Crisp, Irwin, Lee, Wilcox, Worth)
Johnny Grant in Milledgeville (Baldwin, Butts, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Jones, Morgan, Putnam, Taliaferro, Warren)
Ed Harbison in Columbus (Chattahoochee, Muscogee)
Bill Heath in Bremen (Bartow, Haralson, Paulding, Polk)
Jack Hill in Reidsville (Bulloch, Candler, Effingham, Emanuel, Tattnal, Treutlen)
George Hooks in Americus (Dooly, Macon, Marion, Peach, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Upson, Webster)
Freddie Sims in Dawson (Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Mitchell, Quitman, Randolph, Terrell)
John Wiles in Kennesaw (Cobb)
House Representatives voting NO [26 of 180] (counties represented in parentheses)
Glenn Baker in Jonesboro (Clayton, Henry)
Tommy Benton in Jefferson (Barrow, Hall, Jackson)
John Burns in Newington (Bulloch, Burke, Effingham, Jenkins, Screven)
Mark Butler in Carrollton (Carroll, Haralson)
Mike Cheokas in Americus (Marion, Schley, Sumter, Talbot)
Mike Coan in Lawrenceville (Gwinnett)
Clay Cox in Lilburn (Gwinnett)
Terry England in Auburn (Barrow)
Melvin Everson in Snellville (Gwinnett)
Bobby Franklin in Marietta (Cobb)
Michael Harden in Toccoa (Banks, Franklin, Stephens)
Billy Maddox in Zebulon (Lamar, Pike, Upson)
Gene Maddox (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) in Cairo (Decatur, Grady)
Howard Maxwell in Dallas (Haralson, Paulding)
Tom McCall in Elberton (Elbert, Jackson, Madison)
James Mills in Gainesville (Hall)
Jay Powell in Camilla (Colquitt, Mitchell)
Jimmy Pruett in Eastman (Ben Hill, Bleckley, Dodge, Pulaski, Wilcox)
Ann Purcell in Rincon (Chatham, Effingham)
Bobby Reese in Sugar Hill (Gwinnett)
Jay Roberts in Ocilla (Ben Hill, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Telfair, Tift, Wheeler)
Ed Rynders in Albany (Colquitt, Dougherty, Lee, Worth)
Bob Smith in Watkinsville (Clarke, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe)
Tommy Smith in Nicholls (Appling, Bacon, Jeff Davis, Wayne)
Daniel Stout (Paulding)
Mark Williams in Jesup (Brantley, Pierce, Wayne)