MN03 Erik Paulsen working hard on behalf of sharks, puppies and kittens (hoping you forget gun violence)

Did you know :
— in 2017, there were 65 reports of school shootings
— in 2017, there were 735 children (under the age of 12) killed or injured in which a gun was used.
— in 2017, there were 3,240 children (between the ages of 12 and 17) killed or injured in which a gun was used.
— in 2017, there were 30 kittens killed after being used by the USDA in Toxoplasma research projects with the objective to make food safer and protect people from infectious disease.

Well, while some may be alarmed at the first three bullet points, the good news is that Minnesota’s Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen wants his constituents to know that he is focused on kittens.

Yep, on June 7th, Congressman Paulsen officially sponsored HR 5780 Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now (KITTEN) Act … and all it took was a visit from a “kitten“.

Surprised … nah, remember Congressman Paulsen has been a vocal protector of sharks ( H.R.1456 – Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017) and puppies (H.R.3197 – “Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act of 2017” or the “PUPPERS Act of 2017”).

Yep, the guy who famously responded to a questions about humans and global warming by stating “I’m not smart enough to know if that’s true or not,” is “smart enough” to know that proclaiming killing kittens is bad makes for a great photo-op and campaign tweet.

Ya gotta ask, did Congressman Paulsen ask the USDA for their input before making his decision ?

If he did, he would have learned that the use of cats is “essential to the success of this critical research” and claimed the estimate of 100 cats used in the research each year was a serious overestimation.
For the self-proclaimed #MathGuy, a quick quiz … in how many years did the USDA exceed the 100 stated in Paulsen’s tweet if the number killed was
2017 – 30 killed
2016 – 50 killed
2015 – 34 killed
2014 – 44 killed
2013 – 63 killed
[Sidenote : the last report that I could find stated that in 2009, the Humane Society in Golden Valley euthanized 7,828 cats.]

So what questions should an inquiring Congressman want to ask ?

How about …

Has the project produced any beneficial results ?
USDA’s Agriculture Research Services(ARS) studies have been internationally credited with helping to cut the prevalence of T. gondii by as much as 50 percent in the United States and Europe. The research is likewise credited with reducing T. gondii in market-age pigs, which also suffer from toxoplasmosis, from 23 percent in 1984 to currently less than 1 percent in the United States alone. ARS research discovered the life-cycle of T. gondii, improving detection of this and related pathogens leading to efforts to control their impact on livestock and humans. ARS has developed safety guidelines used by food safety authorities throughout the world today. As a result, much of the critical farm management practices and hygienic measures to control and prevent transmission of this disease used today are based on ARS research.

Why not adopt out the kittens instead of killing them (using Paulsen’s words) ?
USDA spokesperson Kim Kaplan explained the reasoning for euthanizing was that the cats cannot be adopted at the end of the research period because of the risks they could pose to adoptive families, “Women newly infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy and anyone with a compromised immune system should be aware that toxoplasmosis can have severe consequences.”
Sorta explains why cat litter has a prominent warning advising pregnant women to avoid changing litter boxes and to have litter boxes in our homes changed daily.

Are there other alternative research methods that are more humane ?
Even proponents of the bill already know the answer … Toxoplasma oocysts cannot be produced in cell culture or any other animal species.

How much is the taxpayer’s paying for this research ?
The project is funded thru May of 2021 at a taxpayer’s cost of $650,000 a year.
$650,000 is a lot of money … but even the #MathGuy knows that is less than a million … and the #MathGuy also knows that he voted to increase FY19 Legislative budget $180 Million ( budget for House staff salaries and expenses … yep, Paulsen staff is slated for a 2.7% increase).

Considering those answers, would that shape your decision to kill funding ?
Personally, as I am a “cat” person, I have scooped more than my share of cat litter boxes at my local animal sheltered, yet, I see a blatant attempt to “image build” Congressman Paulsen in advance of the 2018 mid-terms.
Would he object if the research could be done using turkeys instead of cute, cuddly kittens — oh, wait, Congressman Paulsen enjoys turkey hunting

Surely, Congressman Paulsen remembers the days when counties would pay a bounty for gophers and other animals … it was only in 2011 that the Minnesota state legislature discussed paying a bounty for coyotes … and feral cat hunting is legal in Minnesota subject to local laws.

While we may not like that cats are killed for a variety of reasons … and in this incidence, the numbers appear to be quite small and for research.
IMO, without another source, Congress should not detour the USDA from its task by restricting the use of kittens … but that is just one voter’s view.

Yet, it is doubtful that many will hinge their 2018 vote on the “killing of kittens” issue … but one issue that many will view as critical to their decision process is gun violence.

And there are many bills that Congressman Paulsen has NOT sponsored
HR 3947 Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act
HR 3962 Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act
HR 4025 Multiple Firearm Sales Reporting Modernization Act
HR 4052 Keep Americans Safe Act
HR 4168 Closing the Bump-Stock Loophole Act
HR 5410 Safer America for Everyone Right Now Act (aka SAFER Now Act)

Instead, Congressman Paulsen is pushing HR 5717 (previously discussed on the MN Political Roundtable) which he calls the “red flag” bill.
HR 5717 would authorize the Attorney General to make grants to States that have in place laws that authorize the seizure of firearms from dangerous individuals.
HR 5717 comes with a price tag — “authorized to be appropriated $50,000,000 to carry out this Act for each of fiscal years 2019 through 2021” — as the #MathGuy knows, that means $150 Million in grants to the States. And no funding mechanism meaning that something else would have to be cut.

The “important” piece of legislation has gotten two new cosponsors since it was introduced over a month ago and now sits at 14 cosponsors… and the two who did sponsor this “important” legislation are not MN02 Jason Lewis or MN06 Tom Emmer.

While “red flag” legislation is desirable, if enacted, how many of the thousands of gun violence instances would have been impacted ?
A lot more needs to be done to address gun violence … but Congressman Paulsen is just looking to divert attention with “cute cuddly kittens”.

Congressman Paulsen is a master at the photo-op … and a master at implying that he is pushing real legislation … but a close look tells another story — leaving many constituents to reply via tweet
Always remember to check #VotesNotQuotes.