The Petland Bill is the Ohio GOP’s “Puppy Surprise”

 By Matt Monta


Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s you may remember the stuffed toy “Puppy Surprise” which helped children experience the fluffy and fun joy of pastel canine birth. The selling point of Puppy Surprise was that you didn’t know how many puppies were in each “mom” and all the puppies were different! The Petland bill, SB. 331, as it was signed this week by Governor Kasich is a bit of like a GOP throwback to the popular toy but a helluva lot less fun.

SB331, as it has been pitched to the general public, was supposedly a bill to regulate puppy mills and prevent animal cruelty—no doubt something we all could get behind. However, the puppies gestating in this bill’s womb were less about the noble cause of saving animals and more about the stripping of local control by the state legislature.

Let’s look inside, shall we?

1)    Puppy Mills: Grove City and Toledo originally passed city ordinances that regulated and attempted to curb the use of puppy mills. Not wanting to be left out, the State Legislature took it upon itself to craft a law that supersedes that local law (and all local laws heretofore forever) and is actually less stringent than local laws. Advocates believe the provision in SB 331 will have little to no effect on actually stopping puppy mills.  The bill passed at the urging and with support of Petland, a commercial pet store that wishes to continue to sell puppies without verifying their origin and health.

This alone is a prime example of this legislature’s routine doublespeak bait-and-switch, where they tell the public they’re legislating to look out for them when it’s really about helping big corporations.

2)      Minimum Wage: Cleveland placed on the ballot a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. This is a dramatic increase over the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr and Ohio’s $8.10/hr and is a step, as many believe, toward a fairer wage system. As ever champions of people not getting paid more, the Ohio Legislature added a provision that prevents local municipalities from raising their residents’ wages.

This power-grab makes it clear that the GOP is firm on their stance of keep the minimum wage right where it is, that is if they don’t abolish it. People are hurting for living wages, but with the Ohio GOP falling in-line with national platform of “keep ’em struggling”, they’re showing that they don’t really care.

3)     Worker Benefits: Because they thought stripping local governments of their ability to raise wages wasn’t enough, the legislature also added a provision that prevents local governments from enacting protection for workers related to scheduling, hours, location, or fringe benefits. There is little confidence that this right-sliding GOP controlled Ohio legislature will take up that responsibility for them either.

Without Unions or a strong labor force to back them in the last decade, workers have been increasingly subject to erratic schedules, rescinding of benefits, and just being treated like garbage because it helps big companies pinch pennies. Like the minimum wage block, this shows the Ohio GOP again falls in line with the national position of putting big business over its citizens.

4)      Cell Towers?: Next, for no reason whatsoever except maybe to appease their telecom campaign contributors, SB 331 also contained a provision preventing local governments from making rules about or determining how cellular antennas would need to be installed in their jurisdictions. I am not sure how this might directly impact us. I think it was more to twist the knife on local leaders.

5)  …Cockfighting: criminal provisions to stop bestiality and cockfighting. OK.

To give you an idea of how this went down: the Petland portion was passed on its own through committee on May 25, 2016. The last four amendments were added to that bill on December 6th and 7th. It was passed that day entirely on partisan lines with the yes votes coming only from Republican legislators (21-10 in senate, 55-42 in house). To note, 1 Republican senator and 9 Republican house members voted no. It was then signed a week and half later under a pile of 17 other bills.

This would be like if you got a Puppy Surprise and it had a frog, a parakeet, a Rubick’s cube, a bag of gizzards, and a piece of radium inside. Makes no sense, is kind of weird, and will probably just end up hurting you in the long run.

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