Published: April 12, 2016
HARTFORD, CONN. — Ivory Ban HB 5578 in Connecticut has gained approval from the state’s fiscal office, indicating that lawmakers on that panel see no harmful fiscal impact from it. The bill is likely to go on to the House for a vote at any time, according to Colchester, Conn., antiques dealers Arthur Liverant and Kevin Tulimieri of Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques. “It is important for us all to reach out to as many representatives as possible and urge them to vote the bill down,” urged the dealers.
Connecticut antiques dealers, auction houses, historical organizations and collectors have found an ally in Representative Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown, who promises to put up his best effort in arguing for rejection of this bill. “This is bad legislation,” Bolinsky told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “The problem is not with antique ivory items but with the poachers in Africa. That’s where enforcement efforts should be directed.”
Bolinsky and other opponents of the ban cite a 2013 report in The Washington Post that the 23 significant ivory seizures from 2009 to 2011 demonstrated the poachers’ route is directly from Africa to Southeast Asia. Furthermore, US Customs has not uncovered a significant shipment of ivory coming into the United States since 2004, they contend.
Bolinsky stated that the finding of no fiscal impact to enacting the ban amounts to “a lie.” Referring to California law AB 96, which has already been passed and is due to take effect in June, he said, “California is budgeting $1.7 million to implement their version of this same bill. That money could be better spent on going after the poachers.”
The Newtown representative said he would be happy to hear from supporters opposing the proposed ban directly. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Auctioneers are among the voices urging a No vote on HB 5578, with one recent eblast stating to its clients, “The state of Connecticut is about to vote on a bill that will dramatically affect your ability to buy or sell a large variety of antiques just because they contain some element of ivory. HB 5578 will create restrictions and all-out bans on all manner of portrait miniatures, fine silver, tea caddies, folk art, clocks, barometers and much more.”
The auction trade has argued forcefully at hearings on the matter to date that there are already very strict federal regulations in place restricting both the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn. And they point out that many seniors have antiques and art objects that have been in Connecticut families for generations, and when they need to pay unexpected bills — a health emergency, for example — property they have counted on as a financial asset will be rendered worthless by the legislation.
Dealers Liverant and Tulimieri said they were informed by Representative Joseph Gresko that whale teeth have been removed from HB 5578, protecting the historic art of scrimshaw. “But it is important to keep up the pressure and urge the removal of the 20 percent or less restriction on all genuine antiques,” they said. “Please take a moment to call your representative and senator today.”
Contact information for legislators can be found at www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp.
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