Today we debated Senate File 479, a bill that basically exempts certain types of cats from “dangerous wild animal” status. Generally, Iowa law prohibits a person from owning or possessing a dangerous wild animal or transporting a dangerous wild animal into this state. A dangerous animal includes cats other than domestic cats (e.g., lions and tigers); it also includes the offspring of a dangerous wild animal. The bill provides an exemption for a bengal cat, left ( which is a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat and which is adorable), and also provides an exemption for a savannah cat, right (which is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval cat and which is not quite so adorable as the bengal cat, but still pretty darn cute). In both cases the bill requires a separation of four filial generations between the Asian leopard cat/serval and the exempted cat (aka F-4 bengals and savannahs).
So that’s all well and good, and we were all a yes vote, UNTIL Representative Horbach filed an amendment to the bill (H-8287). Now, amendments are great, but one of the primary rules is that the amendment needs to be closely related to the bill onto which it’s being stuck — if not, the amendment can be challenged as being “un-germane.” E.g., an amendment allowing children to carry concealed on the school playground would be germane to a bill seeking to regulate gun possession, and would also be germane to a bill seeking to regulate recess activities, but would prob not be germane to a bill seeking to make it legal to ride llamas and other alpaca-like animals on public land.
So SF 479 is a simple bill exempting two types of cats from the list of dangerous wild animals, but Rep. Horbach has a constituent who runs a wild Russian boar game hunting preserve, which is actually currently illegal but which Rep. Horbach wants to make legal with his amendment. And, you know, I get that — he’s trying to help out a constituent, and while we don’t usually pass a whole new law to help out one person or one business, more power to Rep. Horbach if he can pull it off. I guess.
But as it turned out, he couldn’t pull it off, because all sorts of different groups had problems with this plan, including hog farmers and the DNR and the Dept. of Health, since apparently in other states where this is allowed the wild boars get loose and reproduce and run rampant throughout the country and city side, spreading germs and inflicting serious injuries to dogs and children with their big scary tusks. Yikes. And while it’s a safe bet that the majority of legislators in the House don’t care much about what the DNR or the Dept. of Health think, they do care about what hog farmers, and farmers in general, and the Farm Bureau in particular, think.
So Rep. Horbach withdrew his amendment making it legal to operate a wild boar game hunting preserve, and instead ran an amendment making it legal to operate a domestic swine hunting preserve. Which first of all is totally not germane to a bill dealing with the classification of cats, but Rep. Horbach moved to suspend the rules to allow him to move forward with his un-germane amendment (which is what the Rs always do, successfully, since it just takes a majority vote to suspend the rules, and there’s 60 of them and 40 of us). And after some discussion in which it was established that Rep. Horbach’s amendment would, indeed, make it legal to hunt plain old non-dangerous pigs, like Wilbur or Babe or Petunia, and which also established that plain old non-dangerous pigs would probably provide fairly easy targets for hunters, since they tend to spend most of their time wallowing and sleeping — we voted on Rep. Horbach’s amendment and it passed, on party lines, as did the amended bill itself. Hurray.
So it’s funny, but it’s not. Because why would anyone vote for a bill making it legal to hunt domestic pigs? They aren’t wild animals — they are, by definition, domesticated. They aren’t dangerous to anyone, except maybe their own baby piglets, if they roll over on one. And making it legal to hunt pigs doesn’t help out Rep. Horbach’s constituents w/the wild boar hunting preserve, because surely most real hunters have no interest in hunting big, fat, lazy domestic pigs–where’s the fun in that?
Plus, it means that the cat re-classification bill is, for all intents and purposes, dead, since there is no way the Senate is going to go along with the pig hunting deal. And that’s too bad for whomever it is that wanted the cats re-classified, and it’s too bad that the Senate wasted time debating and passing the cat bill, and that the House wasted time debating and passing the bill with the pig hunting amendment. Because we still have an awful lot of important things to get done in the next four weeks, and legalizing pig hunting just isn’t one of those things.
But for those folks who really really want to kill some wild boars (legally, I mean, since apparently you can do it illegally in Tama County), here you go — according to this ad, which for some reason popped up on my Facebook news feed, wild boars are taking over Texas, and they’re practically giving them away to anyone with a gun and a large truck. Good times.