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No significant fiscal implication to the State.
There would be a savings to counties and municipalities that would vary
depending on the number of applicable cases in which the animal's owner
is required to pay; however, the fiscal impact is not anticipated to be
HB 234 would amend the Health and Safety Code to authorize a court of competent jurisdiction on finding that an animal's owner has cruelly treated the animal to order the owner to pay the county's or municipality's reasonable attorney's fees. Conforming changes are made in Government Code.
The penalty for defendants who are found to have cruelly treated an animal already includes costs that are not unsubstantial. In the case of a conviction, courts may order the defendant to pay the administrative costs of the investigation, of expert witnesses, of conducting any public sale ordered by the court, and the costs incurred by a municipal or county animal shelter or a nonprofit animal welfare organization in housing and caring for the animal during its impoundment and humanely destroying the animal if destruction is ordered by the court.
The criminal penalty for violating this chapter of code is a Class B misdemeanor which can result in up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $2000.
The penalty and court costs that are already provided for under statute are more than adequate to punish the crime and serve as a deterrent against repeated offenses. It is our view that adding to this already substantive penalty is a form of overcriminalization which makes the total penalty disproportionate to the crime.
For these reasons we oppose HB 234 as a violation of individual liberty and limited government.