Nelson: Senate Bill 197 will ‘help connect more animals to people who will love, care for them’


Republicans and Democrats often fight like cats and dogs but last week they proved that – in Texas anyway – bipartisan agreement can be reached to make it easier to get pets into fur-ever homes.

On May 19, Senate Bill 197, which among other things makes prices and fees for pet adoptions from nonprofit animal shelters and similar organizations sales tax free, passed the state House with paws-itively no opposition. No meow-trage broke out in the Senate when it passed that chamber last month.

Getting the bill through the Legislature wasn’t ruff at all.

“Passing SB 197 supports our local rescue groups and helps connect more animals to people who will love and care for them,” Texas State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who sponsored the legislation, said in Twitter post the same day the bill passed the House.

Despite the usual paw-litical divide, the Senate bill fetched 23 Republican and 11 Democratic sponsors.

Dallas-area lawmakers who joined Nelson as SB 197 co-sponsors were Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), Rep. Carl Sherman (D-Lancaster), Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-University Park), Rep. Angie Button (R-Garland), Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Mesquite), Sen. Angie Paxton (R-McKinney) and Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano).

All the legislation needs now is the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor owns two dogs, Pancake and Peaches, so his signature is entirely paw-sible.

Should SB 197 become law, it would take effect on Friday, Oct. 1.

Nelson, a businesswoman, former teacher, mother and grandmother whose team owns a literal pack of dogs and who has been known to adopt ducks, has been in the state Senate since 1993. Nelson is the highest-ranking Republican in the Senate and is serving her fourth session as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Nelson represents Texas State Senate District 12, which includes portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties.

In addition to provisions for prices and fees, SB 197 extends to rescue groups that operate through a network of foster homes, rather than a central facility, the same exemption from collecting sales that animal shelters currently enjoy under state law.

“Rescue groups shouldn’t have to fear closing their doors over back taxes or penalties,” Nelson said in a Facebook post in November, after she filed SB 197 in the state Senate. “SB 197 will help keep local groups open – and connect more animals to people who will love and care for them.”

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