A bill currently in the SC House Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs has some potentially disturbing consequences for every nonprofit organization in South Carolina should it pass out of committee. This bill originally was brought up last legislative session, and was held over for the upcoming 2014 session, which begins in just a few days on January 14, 2014. Bill number H3492 “Dogs and Domestic pets”, which is a bill solely sponsored by Rep. David Hiott of Pickens County…
… would lead to interference in the business model of nonprofit humane societies and spay/neuter clinics.
Many of you know my volunteer time … and my passion … prior to politics was spent volunteer 20+ hours a week for 7 years for Animal Allies, a nonprofit spay/neuter clinic here in Spartanburg. My organization has performed more than 70,000 surgeries, and has had a documented impact on lowering the intake and euthanasia of cats and dogs in Spartanburg County. We are the epitome of citizens determined to solve a community problem through ingenuity and entrepreneurship, as we began setting surgery appointments with local participating vets at our kitchen table. Animal Allies is now a standalone spay/neuter clinic, which has created 13 jobs, and provides services for at least 7 counties.
Because of the strangulation impact of regulations that would have occurred on Animal Allies’ business model, and the interference in grant contracts between Grantors and Grantees, my organization would never have made enough headway to accomplish all we have had this bill, H3492, been the law back then. This bill serves to eliminate the prospects for other counties in South Carolina to achieve what Animal Allies has in Spartanburg, much the same as you have heard small business owners say “If I had to start my business over in today’s regulated environment, I would not be able to.”
Section 47-3-37. (A) When animal shelters receive grant funds that in part or whole include public money to assist with sterilization procedures on animals that are owned or in possession, custody, or control of the municipal animal shelter or nonprofit animal rescue and are to be adopted by private owners, the grant funds may only be used for sterilization surgery. Grant funds may not be used for capital or administrative expenses or for procedures not directly related to sterilization surgery, including promotions, vaccinations, testing, licensing, food, medicine, and/or other medical procedures.(B) Grant funds may not be used to operate spay and/or neuter clinics, but may only be used for animals that are owned or in possession, custody, or control of the licensed municipal animal shelter and/or licensed nonprofit animal rescue.(C) A portion of the grant funds not to exceed fifteen percent may be used to address immediate or emergency medical needs of the animal.
The Grantors work very hard to raise the funds to be used to fulfill their mission; they are incredibly invested in ensuring the funds are spent to their specifications. Grant recipients work very hard to quality for and secure these grants, and are equally invested in ensuring the monies are spent properly and accurately reported to the grantor, thereby ensuring an ongoing positive relationship. This is not an area where legislators in Columbia should insert their judgment/opinions.
Additionally, allowing the precedent in this bill, H3492, for legislative advocacy groups to push legislators into defining/determining the mission for any nonprofit organization does not bode well for the autonomy and health of SC nonprofit organizations as a whole. Bills written in Columbia may seem benign, but the interpretation and implementation of a bill like this, once passed, should chill all SC nonprofits.
I am asking for your help. Please do four things:
1. Watch this video created by Citizens for a Free Market which is on Youtube at this URL:
2. By whatever communication mechanism you have … Facebook … Email list … Twitter … share my email and this video with your sphere of influence. Ask them to get involved with the two steps below.
3. Join the Facebook page for Citizens for a Free Market to keep up with other Action Items for this bill, and for other bills this upcoming legislative session where regulations threaten South Carolina business and enterprises.
4. AND THIS ONE IS THE IMPORTANT ONE. Please contact the sole sponsor of this bill, Representative David Hiott of Pickens County and ask him to take his name off this bill. If he does that, it will die in committee and that no further votes be taken on it. Call him at (803) 734-3323, or email him in Columbia at DavidHiott@schouse.gov. Please contact him today or tomorrow as the session begins on Tuesday! Persist until you are able to speak with him directly, or receive a “non-canned” email response.