Our supporters are accustomed to hearing from us at the HSLF about federal legislation, policy, and elections, but our work—and our impact for animals—extends far beyond Washington D.C. Every year, HSLF’s team meets with candidates seeking election to state and local offices, too, and in many instances HSLF issues endorsements and campaigns on their behalf.
This approach has produced strong benefits for animals. Just recently in 2018, for example, we were proud to support Jared Polis and Gretchen Whitmer in their respective bids to become governors in Colorado and Michigan—and we couldn’t be happier with the results for the furtherance of our animal protection agenda.
Earlier this summer, Governor Polis signed groundbreaking legislation to eliminate cruel cage confinement of egg-laying chickens in Colorado and require that eggs produced and sold in the state be cage-free. Approximately six million chickens each year will be spared from cage-confinement once the measure is fully phased-in in late 2024. This measure also requires more space per bird, and enrichments that are crucial to hens’ psychological and physical well-being.
Polis was no stranger to us, as HSLF had a long history of working with him during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, a bipartisan organization committed to raising awareness of animal welfare issues. In 2017, he received a perfect score of “100+” on HSLF’s 2017 Humane Scorecard, having supported the full range of priority animal legislation that HSLF scored in the U.S. House. That set the stage for our endorsement in his run for governor, and our call to Coloradans to support him.
In late 2019, Governor Whitmer signed a historic piece of legislation into law which bans the production and sale in Michigan of eggs from chickens locked in cruel cages. This measure requires that hens be provided with enrichments that are vital to their psychological and physical well-being, including scratching areas, perches, nest boxes and dust-bathing areas. Michigan is home to the seventh largest population of egg-lying hens of any state according to an industry group.
We had confidence in Whitmer not least because of an unusual situation that arose in the 2018 primary. As it turned out, animal welfare was very much on the ballot, as news sources revealed Shri Thanedar, Whitmer’s leading opponent, had once owned a contract animal testing laboratory from which about 170 dogs and monkeys had to be rescued in 2010. HSLF produced an ad calling attention to the accusations against Thanedar, and he lost.
Electing humane-minded candidates like Polis and Whitmer is in our DNA. Right now, HSLF is meeting with current candidates seeking office at all levels, issuing endorsements, and making an extra effort in the case of those aspirants for office who have demonstrated their affinity and support for animal welfare.
Gubernatorial elections will be held on November 3rd in eleven states and two territories. This is just one of the many reasons why the 2020 election will have immense consequences for animals and people alike. We want to fill the state capitols of this nation with officials who care about animals and are willing to do something about their plight. That’s what makes this a busy time for us at the HSLF, one that gives us the greatest opportunities to put candidates who share our concern for animals into positions where they can do the animal protection cause some real good. And it’s why we’re asking you to join us in making the fullest possible commitment not just to our ongoing lobbying efforts and campaigns but to our civic engagement and Get-Out-The-Vote initiatives. Citizen advocates are the bulwark of our efforts to put animals into politics, and we need you now more than ever. Please remember to update your voter registration, and look for other steps you can take to give voice to our goals as animal advocates.