Assembly to consider Moose's Law during makeup voting session

TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers are expected to vote on legislation to allow judges to bar some people convicted of animal cruelty from owning pets during a makeup voting session scheduled in place of one canceled earlier this week because of an impending snowstorm.

The animal-cruelty bill, known as Moose's Law after a Delran family's Labrador retriever, is one of 35 bills posted for votes in the Assembly.

The voting session originally was scheduled for Monday afternoon but was postponed until Thursday because of weather forecasts calling for over a foot of snow in Trenton and other parts of New Jersey. 

The bill aims to give judges discretion to bar people convicted of animal cruelty in any state from obtaining or owning a pet, or from working or volunteering in jobs that require direct interaction with animals, including veterinary offices, dog training centers, rescue groups, kennels or groomers. Farms and academic research institutes are exempt.

The bill requires the New Jersey Department of Health to create an animal-cruelty register and make a list of offenders available on its website.

The bill was written by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, in response to a 2012 act of animal cruelty involving Moose, a missing dog that was found by a neighbor who sold the pet to a Pennsylvania family that agreed to pay the neighbor to train it. The dog later died after the trainer left it inside her car on a hot July afternoon.

The measure previously was approved by the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support. However, it died at the end of the 2012-13 voting session after Gov. Chris Christie declined to take action.

Singleton reintroduced the bill last February, and it was released from the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee in September, despite some concerns expressed by the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, which worried that the bill might increase costs for pet stores, zoos and aquariums.

Among the other bills scheduled to be considered during Thursday's voting session are two to increase oversight over police acquisition of surplus military equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The acquisition of the equipment, which has included computers, vehicles as well as assault weapons, has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, where police were seen responding with armored vehicles and other military equipment.

The bills would not ban police departments in New Jersey from obtaining military equipment, but one would require the state Attorney General's Office to review and approve their requests. The second would require the local governing body to also sign off on the acquisitions.

The Senate has already approved two similar bills.


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