Students of Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic presented a bill titled “Elephant Protection Act”, which aims to ban the use of elephants in entertainment acts in New York, to state legislators in the Environmental Studies Classroom in Pace on Monday.
The legislators present were Republican Senator Terrence Murphy and Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, whom the students met with earlier in the month and tasked the students to write a bill as well as form a petition.
The students formed a bill and created a petition, which received over 1,100 signatures.
Environmental Policy Student Nicole Virgona presented the contents of the bill and reasons the clinic wants it passed, which included banning all elephants from entertainment acts in New York State because of the effects it has on their health.
“Elephants in captivity live half as long as elephants in the wild. They suffer from a number of foot diseases and social isolation,” Virgona said. “Research has shown that circuses don’t have any educational or positive economic impact on society.”
The bill is currently pending in New York Senate’s committee, if it makes it out of committee it will be placed on the floor. If it passes both the Senate and the Assembly, it will move to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk who will decide whether or not to sign it into law.
The language of the bill is subject to change, according to Paulin one aspect that is likely to change is the fine of $10,000 per day for those that violate the law.
“Felonies are maybe $5,000, misdemeanors are around $1,000, and violations are more like a $500 fee, so it’s just a very large fee comparatively. When [legislators] look at the penal code they usually look on a comparative basis,” Paulin said.
Murphy believes the bill has the bipartisan support needed to be passed.
“We have a majority Republican in the Senate and a majority Democrat in the Assembly. If Assemblywomen Paulin can get it passed [in the Assembly] and I can get it passed [in the senate] we’re in good hands,” Murphy said.
The Senate and Assembly are currently on break; Paulin expects that a bill both houses can agree on will be complete by the time they return to session in around a week and a half.
Mayor of Pleasantville, Peter Scherer, was also in attendance and lent his support to the cause because of his love of elephants. He foresees the bill facing opposition from legislators who don’t see the issue as important, and in the form of lobbying from circuses who fear this bill will hurt their business.
“I’ve not been much of an activist [for elephants] but I’m pleased to have the chance to do so, it’s been on my radar scene for quite a long time. I’ve read quite a few books about elephants, and it’s not only amazing that it’s taken the world this long to figure out how to fix this, but great to have it happen here at Pace,” Scherer said.
Article by: Joe Tucci
P.S. Joe couldn’t post this himself so he asked me to. Joe wrote this.