A bill that would set stricter punishment, including prison time, for animal cruelty or killing animals could be up for discussion at the Legislative Assembly as soon as Monday, Presidency Vice Minister Luis Paulino Mora Lizano confirmed Thursday.
Mora said the executive branch will make “all necessary changes to the legislative agenda in order to prioritize discussion of the Animal Welfare Bill” starting this week. The executive branch sets the agenda during the current extraordinary period of sessions that ends in April.
The Legislative Assembly’s environmental affairs committee approved the draft bill on March 3 and the full text was published Wednesday in the official newspaper La Gaceta, meaning it is ready for discussion and voting by all 57 legislators.
The bill sets prison penalties for animal cruelty and also penalizes some activities deemed cruel such as dog fighting.
The approval of the draft followed heated debates as lawmakers threatened to file hundreds of motions against the proposal. Most of those motions requested the bill be amended to include an exception for events deemed “traditional,” such as horse parades, rodeos and Tico-style bullfights.
Opposition came mostly from the Libertarian Movement’s Otto Guevara, who refused to negotiate and filed more than 80 motions against the initiative.
All of Guevara’s motions were rejected during committee voting, most of them unanimously. However, legislative rules allow Guevara to re-present them before the full assembly during the first three days of discussion.
In order to become law the bill must be discussed and voted on by the full assembly in two separate rounds of voting.
The approved draft has the support of 32 of the Assembly’s 57 lawmakers. National Liberation Party legislator Ronny Monge has said the bill has a good chance of passing.
Amending the country’s Animal Welfare Law was one of President Luis Guillermo Solís’ campaign promises. After he was elected, he promised to prioritize the animal welfare bill during his first months in office.