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US Legislative Round Up

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Cruelty free developments from our North American team

Like everyone, our US team had to adjust to the year’s challenges with Covid-19 changing our lobbying strategies and cutting some state legislative sessions short. But this unusual year did not prevent us from advocating on behalf of animals in laboratories at the state and federal level. Here are the legislative highlights for 2020. We kicked off the new year with a celebration [complete with a bunny flash mob] of new cruelty free cosmetic laws coming into force in California, Nevada and Illinois. It is now illegal to sell any cosmetic product tested on animals after January 1, 2020. Throughout the year we continued to push new state-level cosmetics legislation in Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and New York. The Hawaii and Maryland bills came close to passing but ran out of time when these state legislatures adjourned early due to Covid-19.

We continued to use the momentum from our state successes to push for passage of the federal Humane Cosmetics Act which would end animal testing for cosmetic across the entire US. After Covid-19 halted some of our in-person meeting plans in Washington DC, we instead hosted a webinar “Safer Cosmetics through Animal Free Testing” with XCellR8 , a laboratory exclusively devoted to animal-free safety testing. As a result, we were able to reach an international audience with attendees joining from the US, Canada, the UK, Italy, France, China, Japan, South Korea and South Africa. While the Humane Cosmetics Act did not advance this year, our efforts helped it achieve an impressive level of bipartisan support with 19 Senate cosponsors and 195 cosponsors in the House. We look forward to working to build back the support in 2021.

Our US team also hit the ground running advocating on behalf of the Humane and Existing Alternative in Research and Testing Sciences (HEARTS) Act, with a pre Valentine’s Day congressional briefing in the House of Representatives in Washington DC. The briefing was hosted in conjunction with the bill sponsors Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ken Calvert (R-CA), who both spoke at the briefing about the importance of moving away from animal-based research and embracing new non-animal methods. Rep Roybal-Allard thanked us, saying: “It has been my privilege to work with Cruelty Free International today, but it has been an even greater privilege to work with this incredible organization to develop legislation that would prioritise the use of non-animal research methods in taxpayer-funded science”.

In July, language pulled from the HEARTS Act was included in the House Fiscal Year 2021 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriation Bill – providing a pathway to achieve some of the changes sought in the HEARTS Act ahead of passing the bill as it tied to 2021 funding for the NIH. Our team continuing to work to keep this language in the final budget. We hope to welcome the HEARTS Act back in 2021. Last but not least, in August, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA ) introduced H.R. 8001, the Companion Animal Release from Experiments (CARE) Act, backed by us. The bill would require that research facilities in receipt of funding from the National Institutes of Health develop and implement adoption policies for dogs, cats and rabbits no longer used for research. The bill also requires that information about the adoption policy and the success of the program (number of animals used, adopted or destroyed) be made available on the facilities website. Ending the year on a high note, in November we were thrilled to gain star support for the CARE Act from actors Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) and Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) who joined our call to #SendSurvivorsHome.