Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) have introduced bills H.R. 4879 and H.R. 2887, which have been dubbed the States' Rights Elimination Acts. These bills could completely undermine the authority of states to pass laws to protect animals and their citizens. 

A diverse and broad coalition of more than 200 groups oppose these dangerous bills. More than 60 of these organizations have signed a joint letter to Congress opposing H.R. 4879 and H.R. 2887 while other groups (such as FreedomWorks and the National Conference of State Legislators) are speaking out against King's legislation on their own.

Harvard Law School published a blistering report on the havoc that King’s measure would cause for states and businesses, echoing the concerns of law professors from across the country.

H.R. 4879 and H.R. 2887 could roll back many hard-fought protections for animals, including state laws regarding puppy mills, factory farms, horse slaughter, shark finning and cat and dog meat.

Download the H.R. 4879 and H.R. 2887 Factsheet

Stop disastrous legislation that would gut animal protection laws.

Congress shouldn’t undermine the ability of states to protect their constituents and animals. Please raise your voice and speak out today against the King amendment (H.R. 4879).

Chickens in battery cage
Research shows that animal welfare is sorely lacking in many animal industries. Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

H.R. 4879

  • Rep. King's legislation is the same failed proposal he's put forth for years. It aims to undo most existing state and local laws regarding agricultural products, including how animals are raised. It takes a lowest-common-denominator approach—if any one state tolerates the way a particular agricultural product is manufactured or produced, no matter how hazardous or unacceptable, every other state could have to do so as well.
  • This threatens laws already enacted by state legislatures and citizen ballot measures on a wide range of concerns including puppy mills, the sale of horse meat, dog and cat meat, eggs from battery-caged hens, and shark finning.
  • In addition to animal welfare laws, H.R. 4879 could subvert hundreds of state and local measures addressing food safety, food labeling, environmental requirements, child labor, alcohol, fire-safe cigarettes and more. 
  • While King has not yet succeeded in enacting his bill, he did get it added as a House committee amendment to the last Farm Bill, generating tremendous opposition across the spectrum. Thankfully, the catastrophic provision was left out of the final version of the last Farm Bill, but now King aims to insert it into the new Farm Bill.


(King's legislation) would erode state sovereignty by pre-empting state laws protecting our nation's food production and manufacturing [...] The 10th Amendment is the cornerstone of constitutional federalism and reserves broad powers to the states and the people. States have used this authority to enact laws that protect their citizens from invasive pests and livestock diseases, maintain quality standards for all agricultural products and ensure food safety and unadulterated seed products.
The National Conference of State Legislatures

H.R. 2887

  • Rep. Sensenbrenner’s bill prohibits states from taxing or regulating any activity in interstate commerce by any person (including a corporation) unless that entity is physically present in the state, for example by being there for 15 days or more in a calendar year. It would prevent states from regulating sales within their own borders of any product made in another state, no matter how hazardous the product or unacceptable the production process.
  • It would also prevent states from regulating professions and services within their borders. Short-term visitors would be able to sell otherwise prohibited goods and commit an untold number of otherwise prohibited acts without being subject to state standards or restrictions. This would put citizens at risk across a broad range of concerns and put in-state businesses at a competitive disadvantage with out-of-state operators who are free to evade state requirements.
  • State laws that could be nullified under H.R. 2887 include agriculture and animal-related laws threatened by the King legislation and a multitude of additional laws related to interstate commerce, such as those governing opioid prescriptions, gambling, adult-oriented businesses, gun sales, water rights, price-gouging by car repair shops and professional licensing requirements. 
This constitutionally questionable legislation would codify a radical federal overreach that would undermine the longstanding constitutional right of states to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens and local businesses, as well as preempt countless laws in all 50 states. In short, this legislation would strip states’ ability to govern.
The National Conference of State Legislatures