State Rep. Robertson Votes To Improve Animal Welfare Ballot Question, Sends Bill Improving School Meal Programs To Governor’s Desk

Below is a press release from State Rep. Dave Robertson’s Office:

BOSTON, MA — Passing with a near unanimous vote Representative Robertson and the House of Representatives moved to implement an updated version of ballot question 3, which voters overwhelmingly approved previously to implement animal welfare standards to egg-laying birds, calves, and pigs. With only one vote in opposition, the House of Representatives approved newer, friendlier, and more efficient vertical aviaries based on changing farming practices both in state and nationwide as well as other aspects in the face of changing farming practices.

The vertical aviaries, a design becoming adopted nationally, will be required to have access to airspace above and allows the birds to roost and fly in a more natural manner. With testimony by both state hen-farmers and animal-activist groups supporting the inclusion of the new standards for hens, the language ensured that Massachusetts did not deviate from the purpose of the ballot question while clarifying and improving the language towards industry trends In addition to approval of the friendlier, efficient cages the legislation also included hens and other birds which provided “adjoining industry” production such as the laying of eggs for liquidized eggs and like products. The language affirmed by voters also included provides protection for calves and pigs, requiring them to have enough room to stand, turn, and lay down.

The House of Representatives also sent legislation to Governor Baker stopping the public disclosure of students whose families have an outstanding lunch debt with public schools, instead directing families to federal school-lunch program resources. Previously some school districts would prohibit students and their siblings from extracurricular activities or extra-academic related programs regardless of debts, though this was not present or ever considered in Tewksbury or Wilmington.

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