Natalie's November Column in the Leominster Champion: Hearing held on bill to ban sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
Last month, the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture held its public legislative hearing on H.384/S.230, “An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops,” which would close the puppy mill-to-pet shop pipeline.
This legislation would prohibit the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet shops unless the animals come from shelters or rescue organizations. Typically, pet shops obtain animals from substandard breeding facilities, which results in consumers unknowingly purchasing sick or genetically-compromised pets. Puppy mills, in particular, are large-scale commercial breeding facilities where profit is given priority over the well-being of animals. Massachusetts state records consistently document such complaints from across the Commonwealth. State and federal records have also demonstrated that puppies from the worst “puppy mills” in the country have been sold to Massachusetts consumers via pet shops. These bills aim to protect both animals and consumers and would have no impact on responsible breeders.
The pet store industry is evolving, and the majority already partners with shelters and rescue organizations to host adoptions through their stores. Of the top 25 retailers in the country, only one sells puppies. While pet stores may claim that they obtain animals from small-scale, humane breeders, the reality is that pet stores cannot obtain dogs from responsible breeders because responsible breeders simply do not sell puppies to pet stores.
This legislation would not prevent consumers from acquiring one of these animals from a responsible breeder or a shelter or rescue organization. Further, it does not prohibit a pet shop from partnering with a shelter or rescues to provide animals in their store. California, Maryland, Maine, Washington, and Illinois have similar state laws. There are more than 380 municipalities nationwide — including Boston, Cambridge, Holliston, Marshfield, North Adams, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Springfield, and Stoneham — that have passed laws prohibiting the sale of commercially-raised dogs and cats in pet stores.
I am proud to help lead the efforts to pass this legislation to protect puppies, kittens, and rabbits, as well as their human families, from the harmful practices of substandard out-of-state massive breeding facilities, like puppy mills. Beyond that, I am thankful to be teaming up with Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis (7th Middlesex - Framingham), to launch a new Protecting Animal Welfare (PAW) Caucus in the Massachusetts Legislature. We want to continue to strengthen the voice of animal welfare advocacy, and work to pass vital legislation like H.384/S.230 into law.
Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. While my office continues to work remotely, we are still accessible by phone (978-227-5278) or email (Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov). We’ve moved our office hours online — Monday nights and Friday mornings. Please email or call to sign up.
Telegram & Gazette highlights legislation for fund sought to revive underutilized buildings across the State
BOSTON — A new state fund outlined in a bill before the Legislature would help facilitate improvements to underutilized commercial or industrial buildings in economically distressed areas, a measure that supporters say would help spur job creation and business, and maintain historic structures.
The bill (H 285), filed by state Reps. Patricia Duffy and Natalie Higgins, would task MassDevelopment, the state's development finance agency, with overseeing a redevelopment fund that would dole out money to both nonprofits and for-profit companies.
Check out the full article here: https://www.telegram.com/story/business/2021/11/26/fund-sought-revive-underutilized-buildings-across-state/8742288002/
The Daily Hampshire Gazette highlights fund sought to revive underutilized buildings
"BOSTON — A new state fund outlined in a bill before the Legislature would help facilitate improvements to underutilized commercial or industrial buildings in economically distressed areas, a measure that supporters say would help spur job creation, business, and maintain historic structures.
The bill (H 285), filed by Reps. Patricia Duffy, D-Holyoke, and Natalie Higgins, D-Leominster, would task the MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency, with overseeing a redevelopment fund that would dole out money to both nonprofits and for-profit companies. Duffy said the bill is “simple” as it seeks to help developers upgrade, renovate, or repair buildings in older cities and former manufacturing hubs."
Check out the full article here: https://www.gazettenet.com/Fund-sought-to-revive-underutilized-buildings-43714486
"The bill (H 285), filed by Reps. Patricia Duffy and Natalie Higgins, would task the MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency, with overseeing a redevelopment fund that would dole out money to both nonprofits and for-profit companies. Duffy, a Holyoke Democrat, said the bill is “simple” as it seeks to help developers upgrade, renovate, or repair buildings in older cities and former manufacturing hubs."
Check out the full article here: https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/fund-sought-to-revive-underutilized-buildings/article_2063827a-4d30-11ec-aae7-8b15389e59dd.html
Rep. Lewis and Rep. Higgins Tour Recompose Facility in Kent, Washington in Effort to Ecological Burial Alternatives
November 3, 2021 (Boston) – Earlier this fall, Rep. Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) and Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis (D-Framingham) toured Recompose's first facility in Kent, Washington, to better understand national best practices in ecological burial alternatives.
"We were thankful to learn more from the team at Recompose about Natural Organic Reduction and the positive impacts it can have in Massachusetts and to see their first facility in operation," said Rep. Higgins.
This session, Rep. Higgins and Rep. Lewis filed new legislation (H4036) to add two additional options for Massachusetts residents: alkaline hydrolysis and natural organic reduction (NOR). With the hopes of combatting the present and ever-growing threat of climate change and provide Massachusetts families with new affordable alternatives to conventional burial.
"This legislation is about giving Massachusetts families additional options in burial care, options currently only available to families in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado," Rep. Lewis noted.
Natural organic reduction saves one metric ton of carbon dioxide from entering the environment when chosen in place of conventional burial or cremation - equivalent to 40 backyard propane tanks or 113 gallons of gasoline. Alkaline hydrolysis, which is available in 20 states, uses water and an alkali solution to convert remains into a liquid and sand-like substance that can be returned to the natural environment via the watershed or for use in farming, using only one-tenth of the energy involved in cremation. Natural organic reduction gently reduces human remains into soil that can be used for planting or scattering akin to conventional cremation.
Cremation costs nearly $9,000, and conventional burial costs are even higher at $10,000, according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association. In contrast, alkaline hydrolysis costs around $3,000 per burial, and natural organic reduction costs about $5,500.
"It's not easy to think about after-death choices, but being able to choose a last gesture that is beneficial to the planet can be comforting. Natural organic reduction is sustainable and informed by nature," said Katrina Spade, inventor of NOR and the founder and CEO of Recompose, the first full-service funeral home to offer this option. "Our research has proven this option to be safe and effective, and we're honored to have already provided the service to more than 50 families. We look forward to working with lawmakers and community members to make NOR available to all Massachusetts residents who want it." Spade first had the idea for the process while pursuing her master's degree in architecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
"Thank you to Rep. Lewis, Rep. Higgins, and their teams for making the trip to the Recompose Greenhouse, it was an honor to show them how we transform humans into soil at the first licensed funeral home offering human composting. We look forward to working with the representatives and the people of Massachusetts to bring this important death care option to the state very soon."
The legislation will be heard by the committee on Public Health on November 15th at 9 am, those who wish to testify, submit written testimony, or both, may sign up and/or submit written testimony by completing this form: https://forms.gle/5JVc1RUayfotvSYH7 by November 11th at 5pm.