THUMBS UP to the Legislature for passing a measure that will help keep “puppy mill” puppies out of Maine.

L.D. 335 passed the House 79-59 and the Senate 21-13. If enacted, it will require pet shops to attest in writing that the dogs and cats they are offering come only from public or private charitable nonprofit animal shelters, humane societies or animal rescue organizations.

As an amendment to the original bill, it now offers an exception for the four Maine pet shops that currently sell puppies, though they do have to attest that the dogs and cats they are selling come from breeders with a clear record from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

If those shops change ownership, however, the new owners would not be able to sell dogs or cats from breeders.

This legislation is necessary because of the low standards and poor oversight at the USDA, which does not have the resources to properly police breeders and often allows for repeat and escalating violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

As a result, breeding animals are kept in poor conditions for years, suffering out of sight from the people who buy their cute offspring.

L.D. 335 is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. Gov. Paul LePage should sign this bill into law, so Maine is no longer a part of this immoral pipeline. If he vetoes the bill, the Legislature should overturn, and send a message that Maine is not open for business from puppy mills.

THUMBS DOWN to the U.S. senators who earlier this month voted against veteran spousal benefits for same-sex couples.

Most federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, recognize legally married same-sex couples now, following a decision by the Supreme Court in 2013 that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

But a provision in the regulation of veterans benefits means that same-sex couples are only recognized as legally married in states that allow same-sex marriage.

An amendment in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act would have changed that, ensuring that same-sex couples receive their well-earned veterans benefits regardless of where they live.

Fifty-three senators, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins and seven other Republicans, voted in favor of the measure, but it needed 60 votes to pass.

The vote came less than a week after Memorial Day, when many, if not all, of those 47 senators who voted against it were no doubt taking part in commemorations honoring those who have given their lives in service of the country.

But all that is empty rhetoric, apparently, as they hide behind “state’s rights” as a way to justify keeping some veterans from getting the benefits they deserve.

The Supreme Court will likely remedy this situation when, and if, it votes to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. But any delay is too long for veterans who are now being treated as second-class citizens.

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