BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 1417
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   August 4, 2010

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                     SB 1417 (Cox) - As Amended:  August 2, 2010 

          Policy Committee:                              JudiciaryVote:9-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:  No

           SUMMARY  

          This bill increases the professional standards and oversight  
          regarding the appointment of humane officers. Specifically, this  
          bill:

          1)Repeals the requirement that a humane society's articles of  
            incorporation must be endorsed either by the Department of  
            Justice (DOJ) or by the judge of the superior court and  
            instead permits a corporation for the prevention of cruelty of  
            animals (humane society) to form under the Nonprofit Public  
            Benefit Corporation Law.

          2)Eliminates the requirement that a city or county pay up to  
            $500 per month to a society actively engaged in enforcing  
            state laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals or  
            children, and instead authorizes local governments to enter  
            into contracts with humane societies for the enforcement of  
            laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals, but also  
            permits these societies to enforce these laws without a  
            contract.

          3)Requires a humane society seeking to appoint a humane officer  
            to file a Petition for Order Confirming Appointment of a  
            Humane Officer, including specified information, with the  
            superior court of the county in which its principal office is  
            located, in compliance with the specified rules, including  
            requiring the society to:

             a)   Obtain criminal record offender information regarding  
               the appointee from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

             b)   Serve a copy of the petition on the following, each of  








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               whom may file an opposition to the petition: (1) the local  
               police department; (2) the local sheriff's department; (3)  
               the CHP; (4) the State Humane Association of California;  
               (5) and DOJ.

          4)Specifies certain conditions upon which the court is required  
            to deny the petition without further consideration if the  
            society cannot demonstrate in its submitted materials that:

             a)   In the case of a petition to appoint a level 1 humane  
               officer, at least five years have elapsed between the date  
               the society filed its articles of incorporation and filed  
               the petition.  In the case of a petition to appoint a level  
               2 humane officer, at least one year must have elapsed.  
               (Current law only requires six months for level 1 and level  
               2 officers.)

             b)   The society has a written agreement with another entity  
               that provides for the humane care and treatment of any  
               animals seized by the society and meets other specified  
               requirements, or the society may operate its own animal  
               shelter and meet the other requirements.  

           5)Requires the court to determine whether or not to confirm the  
            humane officer appointment.
           
           6)Provides that any humane officer confirmed prior to January 1,  
            2012 shall not be required to seek a new court order  
            confirming his or her appointment, but that a level 2 humane  
            officer shall file a certificate of compliance with criminal  
            background requirements, as specified, with the DOJ on or  
            before January 1, 2012, or that humane officer's appointment  
            will be immediately revoked.
           
           7)Requires that all level 1 and level 2 humane officers complete  
            the background checks and physical and mental evaluations  
            currently required only of level 1 officers, and requires a  
            level 2 humane officer to provide proof of compliance with  
            criminal background check requirements, as specified, by  
            filing a certificate of compliance with the DOJ by January 1,  
            2012, or that humane officer's appointment will be immediately  
            revoked.

          8)Requires humane officers to complete continuing education and  
            training requirements during each three-year period following  








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            his or her appointment.  Requires Level 1 humane officers to  
            complete additional weapons training and range qualifications  
            every six months.  Requires all humane officers to file  
            certificates of compliance with the Department of Justice at  
            the end of the three-year or six-month period.  Failure to  
            comply with the ongoing training requirements shall result in  
            revocation of the humane officer's appointment at the end of a  
            three-year term.

          9)Authorizes the DOJ to charge a reasonable fee sufficient to  
            cover costs of maintaining various records of Orders,  
            certificates of compliance, and other documents.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)For at least the first few years following enactment, the DOJ  
            would require one-half position, at an annual cost of about  
            $40,000 to establish a database, ensure timely compliance by  
            existing and new humane officers with the background check and  
            other certification requirements, and maintain all relevant  
            records. Given the relatively small numbers of humane officers  
            statewide, over time these costs should decline. In addition  
            to the standard $32 fee for a criminal background check, the  
            department, in order to cover its staffing costs, would have  
            to charge each humane officer a fee of around $1,000 for a  
            certificate of completion in the first two years. (This  
            assumes around 40 officers would seek the certification during  
            this period.) After two years, the fee for a certificate,  
            assuming 20 per year, would have to be around $2,000 to cover  
            DOJ's staff costs. Given that the human officers are  
            volunteers, these fee levels may be unreasonably high, thus  
            requiring the General Fund to instead bear some portion of  
            DOJ's costs.

          2)The courts, recognizing the limited number of humane officers,  
            believes that the bill will only result in minor additional  
            workload, and more importantly, will provide a cost-effective  
            alternative to improve the existing process for approving new  
            humane officers.

          3)Any costs for local governments, such as sheriffs or police,  
            are non-reimbursable because they are afforded the  
            opportunity, but not required, to file an opinion with the  
            court regarding a pending petition for a humane officer  
            position.








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          COMMENTS  

           1)Background  . Humane officers work to enforce the state's animal  
            welfare laws, but may be appointed only by a private  
            non-profit humane society formed under California's  
            Corporations Code. Appointment must be followed by judicial  
            confirmation of the appointment petition before a person  
            enjoys humane officer authority under the law. Existing law  
            explicitly provides that "a humane officer is not a peace  
            officer, but may exercise the powers of a peace officer at all  
            places within the state." A humane officer's scope of powers  
            can vary, depending on the level of training and animal  
            welfare education, but can include the ability to exercise the  
            powers of a peace officer in order to prevent animal cruelty,  
            make arrests, serve search warrants, and, for level 1  
            officers, to carry firearms. According to the SHAC, there are  
            approximately 75 humane officers statewide, the majority of  
            which work for a humane society that is a member of SHAC and  
            are level 2 officers (not authorized to carry firearms).
           
          2)Purpose  . This bill is sponsored by the Placer County Board of  
            Supervisors, the California State Sheriffs' Association, and  
            the State Humane Association of California (SHAC), a  
            non-profit membership association of humane societies with  
            over 130 member organizations in the state.  This bill  
            significantly revises current law by imposing new procedures  
            and requirements for the appointment of humane officers by  
            non-profit corporations formed for the purpose of preventing  
            cruelty to animals (customarily referred to as "humane  
            societies.")

            According to supporters, the overall purpose of this bill is  
            to strengthen inadequate existing law and "raise the  
            professional bar" for the formation of humane societies and  
            the appointment of humane officers.  Because humane officers  
            have certain search, seizure, and arrest powers under existing  
            law, the author believed this bill is needed to "increase the  
            standards for humane officers." The most recent amendments  
            represent an effort by the author, sponsors and Assembly  
            Judiciary Committee to meet the objectives of quality and  
            oversight, while simultaneously attempting to address concerns  
            from the opposition that new requirements would effectively  
            deter new humane officers from being appointed.








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           3)Opposition  . The League of Placer County Taxpayers is concerned  
            that the bill will increase costs to humane societies for the  
            appointment of humane officers, and argues that the current  
            process has worked well.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081