Sometimes, politics play a greater role than the merits of the issue when deciding whether legislation gets a fair hearing. In the case of AB 2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act introduced in the California legislature in February 2014 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, politics is most definitely a factor. The current speaker of the California Assembly is Toni Atkins, whose San Diego district includes SeaWorld. While she is speaker, the political climate for AB 2140 is far from ideal. Over the summer, she has been pushing back hard against allowing this bill to move forward during the coming legislative session.
It is therefore unlikely that AB 2140 will be reintroduced in 2015 (we will know for certain by the end of February). However, this is only a temporary setback. Some progressive legislation can take years to pass—the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 took a decade to push through the California Assembly. They aren’t called “legislative battles” for nothing. Reintroducing AB 2140 when there is a friendlier—or at least not hostile—speaker (the office turns over every two years) is the best strategy at this point.
Assemblymember Bloom remains committed to the bill and in fact is asking Speaker Atkins for a hearing in 2015 to address the result of the interim study ordered by the Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife in April. So far, Speaker Atkins has not responded positively to this request, so AWI is asking citizens to send letters to the speaker, urging her to at least allow the legislature to undertake this important examination of the interim study results.