BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 96 (Atkins) - Animal parts and products: importation or sale  
          of ivory and rhinoceros horn.
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          |Version: June 17, 2015          |Policy Vote: N.R. & W. 7 - 2    |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: Yes (see staff         |
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          |Hearing Date: July 6, 2015      |Consultant: Marie Liu           |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. 

          Summary:  AB 96 would modify and expand the prohibition of the  
          importation, sale, and purchasing of ivory and rhinoceros horn. 

           Minor and absorbable costs to the Fish and Game Preservation  
            Fund (special/General Fund) for the Department of Fish and  
            Wildlife (DFW) to update regulations.
           Unknown cost pressures, potentially up to $1.2 million  
            annually ongoing and $1 million in one-time costs, to the Fish  
            and Game Preservation Fund (special/General Fund) to DFW for  
            enforcement. These costs may be at least partially offset by  
            criminal and civil penalties.

          Background:  Under existing law, a person is prohibited from importing into  


          AB 96 (Atkins)                                         Page 1 of  
          California for commercial purposes with intent to sell, or to  
          sell within the state, the dead body, or any part of, any  
          elephant (Penal Code 653o). However, Section 5 of Chapter 692  
          of the Statutes of 1976 excluded from this prohibition any  
          elephant bodies or parts that was imported prior to January 1,  
          1977. This section also placed the burden of proof to  
          demonstrate the items were imported prior to January 1, 1977 are  
          placed upon the defendant.

          Proposed Law:  
            This bill would delete the exemption on the importation or  
          sale of elephant bodies or parts that were imported prior to  
          January 1, 1977.
          This bill would also create a new ban the sale, purchase, and  
          importation of ivory and rhinoceros horn within the Fish and  
          Game Code. Ivory would be defined as the tooth or tusk from a  
          species of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, walrus, whale, or  

          The following would be exempted from the ban:

           Law enforcement activity being undertaken by a state or  
            federal employee;
           Activities authorized by federal law;
           Ivory or rhinoceros horn that is part of a musical instrument  
            and is less than 20% of by volume of the instrument if the  
            instrument was manufactured no later than 1975; 
           Ivory or rhinoceros horn that is part of an antique and is  
            less than 5% by volume of the antique, if there is  
            documentation that the antique is at least 100 years old; or
           The purchase or sale of the ivory or rhinoceros horn is for  
            educational or scientific purposes and the item was legally  
            acquired before 1991 and it is transferred or sold before July  
            1, 2016.

          This bill would establish specific criminal penalties for  
          violations of this prohibition.

          This bill would also establish the procedure by which civil and  
          administrative penalties may be imposed. 


          AB 96 (Atkins)                                         Page 2 of  

          Comments:  This bill would not require specific levels of  
          enforcement, however the bill create cost pressures to enforce  
          the new provisions. Enforcement costs would depend on the number  
          of enforcement actions and the nature of those actions. For  
          example, DFW cites that the investigative costs for violations  
          can vary between $150 and $150,000 per incident. Higher cost  
          investigations are for those cases that may require  
          specially-trained wildlife officers, undercover operations, and  
          covert surveillance. 
          Because of this wide variability in investigative costs, DFW  
          assumes that this bill would require them to develop  
          infrastructure (staff and equipment) to provide for the greatest  
          level of enforcement. This would require, according to DFW, four  
          wardens, one Lieutenant, a wildlife forensic specialist, legal  
          counsel, and one governmental program analyst to provide  
          clerical and administrative support for an annual costs of $1.2  
          million. DFW also estimates needing approximately $1 million in  
          one-time costs for sampling and analysis equipment. 

          Staff notes that DFW's estimate does not take into account the  
          fact that at least some of these enforcement cost pressures, if  
          not most, are preexisting because of the current Penal Code  
          prohibitions on elephant bodies and parts. Existing enforcement  
          cost pressures are significant because DFW does not currently  
          spend significant resources on enforcement of those provisions.  
          Instead, DFW has relied on enforcement by the US Fish and  
          Wildlife Service. DFW believes that the expansion of the ivory  
          and rhinoceros horn prohibition would make it more likely that  
          they would have to undertake the enforcement action rather than  
          the federal government.

          Staff notes that this bill could arguably reduce enforcement  
          cost pressures by deleting the exemption on imports made before  
          1977. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to verify when a  
          particular animal part was imported. Thus the existing exemption  
          has made enforcement very difficult and expensive. The age or  
          import time of the ivory or horn under this bill is no longer  
          relevant under this bill (the date requirements for the musical  


          AB 96 (Atkins)                                         Page 3 of  
          instrument and antique exemptions are based on the age of the  
          instrument and antique piece as a whole, not the ivory part),  
          thereby potentially easing enforcement actions. 

          The department notes that it may incur additional costs in the  
          $10,000 to $30,000 range to implement the exemption for  
          educational or scientific purposes. However, given that this  
          exemption essentially expires after July 1, 2016, this would be  
          a relatively minor one-time cost.

          This bill constitutes a state mandate as it creates a new crime.  
          However, under the California Constitution, costs associated  
          with this mandate are not reimbursable. 

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