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July 7, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Backers cancel initiative to give chickens better living conditions

Posted by Andrew Garber

The sponsors of an initiative to give chickens roomier accommodations decided to call it quits on Thursday, apparently after collecting what would likely be enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

Organizers said they have more than 350,000 signatures so far and the Secretary of State recommends collecting 320,000 to have enough valid voters to qualify for the ballot.

The measure was dropped after the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers reached an agreement to "work together toward the enactment of comprehensive new federal legislation for all 280 million hens involved in U.S. egg production," according to a press release sent out this morning.

Initiative 1130 would have prohibited keeping egg-laying hens in stacked cages, or in cages that prevent them from moving freely and fully extending their wings. It also would have barred the sale of eggs from businesses that didn't comply with the law.

The sponsors raised more than $560,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, spending much of it on paid signature gathering.

Initiative backers say the proposed federal legislation, among other things, would require conventional cages to be replaced with new housing that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they currently have.

Three other initiatives still have appointments to turn in signatures on Friday: Initiative 1183 would privatize the state liquor business; Initiative 1125 would make it harder to toll state highways and I-1163 would reinstate training requirements for home health-care workers.

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