Authored by House Minority Leader Edwin Propst, House Bill 21-59 is now Public Law 21-31.
In an interview, Propst said he was saddened that the governor “sat” on his bill for 40 days. He was disappointed that the governor “did not bother to look into it” despite the “overwhelming support” from the Saipan Mayor’s Office, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the departments and agencies and majority in the community.
At the same, Propst said he was grateful that the governor did not veto the bill.
The new law will impose a fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000 or 500 hours of community work or both, on a person who commits the offense in the first degree. First degree means the person causes serious physical injury to the animal, causes death or tortures the animal; and has a prior conviction in the first and second degree.
For the offense in the second degree, meaning the person mistreats the animal and knowingly and intentionally abandons or deserts the animal, and cruelly neglects any animal being kept, the law imposes a $500 fine and 250 hours of community service or both.
The measure states that “action must be taken to prevent such inhumane and malicious acts in order to promote peace for our animals and to improve the image of the CNMI.”
P.L. 21-31 exempts cockfighting, the conduct of which is “consistent with traditional customs or cultural practices….”
However, a federal law that took effect in Dec. 2019 extended a ban on fighting roosters and dogs to Guam, the CNMI, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.