Update, Tuesday, June 2. Good news! AB 96, the bill to close ivory trade loopholes in California, has passed overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis in the state assembly. The 62-14 vote (with four abstentions) is a big win for Speaker Toni G. Atkins’ bill in the 80-member assembly. The state senate will now take up the legislation; we will keep you posted on upcoming hearings.
“California is a top market for ivory with illegal sales of ivory estimated to have doubled over the past eight years,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego) in a statement released shortly after the vote. “Today we closed a loophole that had kept California a leading market in the sale of illegal ivory. By passing AB 96, we make it harder for illegal sellers to hide and we better protect elephants and rhinos from senseless slaughter and extinction.”
AB 96, a bill that would close longstanding loopholes in California that have allowed illegal ivory sales to flourish for decades, is nearing a vote in the state assembly.
An assembly floor vote could come as soon as Tuesday, June 2. The bill would then need to pass the state senate before it reaches Governor Brown’s desk.
For decades, criminals have used the legal trade of ivory imported prior to 1977 in order to launder more recently obtained illegal ivory from Africa, where an estimated 33,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year.
According to a report released in January by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an undercover investigation found that up to 90% of ivory carvings, figurines, bracelets and other items for sale in Los Angeles were likely illegal under California law. In San Francisco, at least 80% of such items were also likely illegal.
With the passage of this bill, California would join New York and New Jersey in closing the ivory loophole and adopting stiffer criminal and civil penalties for illegal ivory sales.