OLR Research Report

November 14, 2008




By: Joseph R. Holstead, Associate Analyst

You asked for information about (1) Connecticut and Vermont law concerning confinement of farm animals and (2) California's proposition 2, banning certain farm animal confinement practices, and the proposition process in California in general.


Connecticut law prohibits cruelty to farm and all animals. The law imposes a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to a year, or both, for failing to give an animal (1) proper care when it is confined (e.g., caged) and (2) necessary sustenance and wholesome air, food, and water (CGS 53 247). The law does not prohibit accepted agriculture practices, such as confinement of veal calves.

Vermont's law is similar to Connecticut's on the humane treatment of confined animals. It prohibits the inhumane tying, tethering, or restraint of animals, either a pet or livestock, except “livestock and poultry husbandry practices.” This law also requires proper nourishment for these animals. Violators are subject to imprisonment for up to one year, a fine up to $2,000, or both (the penalties increase for subsequent violations) (Vt. Stat. Title 13, Ch. 8 352).

Although California currently prohibits animal cruelty and penalizes violators in ways similar to Connecticut and Vermont (see Cal. Pen. Code 597), Proposition 2, Standards for Confining Farm Animals, requires that anyone keeping certain types of farm animals confine them only in ways that allow the animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely, with certain exceptions, beginning January 1, 2015. The proposition passed on November 4, 2008.

Proposition 2 was a statutory proposal and, because it passed, becomes part of California's statutes. An initiative in California, such as Proposition 2, requires a percentage of signatures in support of the measure before the state places it on the ballot for all voters to consider (see below for more information about California's proposition process).


Proposition 2

Beginning January 1, 2015, the newly enacted law (Proposition 2) prohibits the confinement on a farm of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. It makes exceptions for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research, and veterinary purposes. Under the law, violators are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, or both, according to California's Secretary of State's voter guide webpage.

Under the law, “farm” means “the land, building, support facilities, and other equipment that are wholly or partially used for the commercial production of animals or animal products used for food or fiber; and does not include live animal markets.”

California's Propositions

Legislative proposals (initiatives and referendums) enable citizens to bypass the legislature by placing proposed statutes or constitutional amendments on the ballot. In the U.S. (most commonly in the West), the initiative and referendum movement dates back to the progressive eras of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The initiative was established in California in 1911. Since the passage in June 1978 of Proposition 13, which drastically slashed local property taxes and limited future tax increases, California has become known as the leader in the use of the initiative and referendum.

In order to qualify for the ballot in California, initiatives must be certified at least 131 days prior to the next statewide election or special election. Sponsors must first submit the text of the proposal to the attorney general. A $200 deposit is required to get petitions to circulate, which is refundable if the initiative measure qualifies for the ballot within two years after the summary has been issued to the proponent. Circulators have 150 days to submit petitions signed by at least 8% of the number of total votes cast for the position of governor in the last election for a constitutional amendment or 5% for a statutory proposal. A majority of the popular vote is required to enact a measure. To avoid confusion over proposition numbers from year to year, California uses a sequential numbering system that starts over every 20 years with a Proposition 1.

More information is available at the California Secretary of State's website: