Magician feels tricked by lack of revised rabbit rule
WASHINGTON — Marty Hahne’s magic tricks don’t work in Washington.
Hahne is the Springfield, Mo.-area magician who became a media sensation a few years ago, when The Washington Post wrote about an obscure federal rule that required him to have a license and disaster plan for his rabbit, Casey, the furry star of his children’s magic shows.
The reaction was wondrous — at first.
story from The Motley Fool
Investor who told you to buy Amazon in 1997 thinks he has the next BIG ONE
The secretary of Agriculture quashed the disaster plan requirement immediately after the Post’s story was posted online. And by early 2014, lawmakers in Congress had directed the Agriculture Department to craft an exemption to the rules, so that Hahne and other magicians no longer had to submit to surprise federal bunny inspections and other silliness.
Nearly three years later, though, those political edicts seem like hocus pocus to Hahne, a.k.a. “Marty the Magician.”
Agriculture Department regulators haven’t finalized the exemption, so he still has to file annual paperwork for his rabbit permit, and Casey still gets regular visits from the USDA inspectors. The magician even has to send the feds his travel schedule if he and Casey go on any overnight trips.
“When I travel with my rabbit, like if I’m going to an elementary school in Kansas City … the letter of the law says I need to fax or email them my itinerary,” said Hahne, who performs at schools, libraries and birthday parties. “It’s just a real inconvenience.”
The decades-old rule was originally intended to regulate zoos and circuses, but it has expanded over the years to scoop up even small “animal exhibitors” like Hahne. The issue captured national attention when the USDA moved to expand the rule even further — requiring businesses that sell or exhibit animals to develop emergency plans for their furry friends in case of a flood, tornado or other disasters.
That proposal, since nixed, stemmed from a public outcry after thousands of animals were abandoned during Hurricane Katrina. Congress got involved then, too — passing a law requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make sure rescue plans addressed the needs of individuals with pets and service animals.
Hahne said it’s all gotten a bit out of hand.
“If you have six tigers in a show, you should be inspected,” he said. “But if you have one little bunny rabbit?”
Federal regulators have not ignored the magician’s bunny saga. But they have taken years to rewrite the rules that require smaller animal exhibitors to get a license and inspections. And the proposed rules they’ve come up with would still ensnare Hahne in their regulatory net.
On Aug. 3, more than two years after Congress called for the exemption, the Agriculture Department’s animal and plant division issued a 12-page draft proposal. Under that measure, to wiggle out of the licensing and inspection requirements, magicians and other animal exhibitors can’t make a living off that activity.
“… Persons who derive their primary source of income from exhibiting the animals, or who generate a substantial amount of money from such exhibition as determined by APHIS (the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), would not be eligible for the exclusion,” the draft rule states. The agency said Congress’ legislative directive should be interpreted to mean “the activity is not a full-time job or primary source of income.”
But Hahne is a full-time magician, and Casey is a regular part of his act. “Their definitions don’t help me out,” he said.
Now, the Agriculture Department’s proposal has Sen. Claire McCaskill hopping mad.
“I can think of no earthly reason why a magician should be subject to a burdensome registration regulation from the government for his lone rabbit,” the Missouri Democrat. “I relish the opportunity to arm-wrestle bureaucrats who dropped their common sense on their way into the office.”
McCaskill sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week blasting the agency for taking so long to enact the new rule and for failing to figure out a common-sense solution to the magician’s dilemma.
“This is a classic example of bureaucrats in Washington identifying a potential problem but using a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel to address it,” she said.
Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s animal and plant agency, said agency officials met with McCaskill last week to hear her concerns. She said USDA officials are now reviewing all the public comments submitted on the draft rule before finalizing it.
“The intent of our proposed rule is to exempt business activities that are de minimis — meaning they are of a sufficiently small size, maintain or infrequently exhibit a small number of certain common non-dangerous animals, or own household pets that are exhibited occasionally, generate less than a substantial portion of income, and reside exclusively with the owner — from federal licensure and oversight,” Cole said.
Hahne said he was encouraged that McCaskill decided to weigh in on the matter. But it might take more than a little magic to get the rule fixed.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
(Photo: Astrid Riecken, Getty Images)
As a full time magician who performs with many exotic animals this entire article really hits home and makes me very angry! I hope this can come to a reasonable solution soon as I would certainly hate to be in Marty Hahne's position.
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
As a magician it is critical that I am always learning, and practicing new illusions that will keep my show fresh and my clients happy wanting to see the latest and greatest tricks that I have been working on. So with each new year it is a goal to come up with a show that I feel my clients will be excited by. I specialize in stage magic which means bigger props and more equipment for the most part. Though many magicians have resorted to hiring a camera crew and projecting their close-up magic onto giant screens so large audiences may still enjoy. I haven't yet jumped on that band wagon, however I have spent the past year focusing on building my close-up magic show so that I could perform a parlor show or even a stage show with a camera crew using only sleight of hand and manipulation. I feel that in the upcoming year I will be comfortable performing for this type of show and it will allow me to hopefully break into the cruise ship market, as well as performing a more intimate perfrormance. In the past all of my shows have been either comedy magic, or high-energy performances, but I want to challenge myself to be able to perform a silent act that can be performed internationally (no language barrier). My silent magic act I want it to be seated at a table, with a camera crew, projection screen, fog machine, dynamic stage lighting, formal dress, and present close-up magic that will mystifiy and amaze. I believe that this type of magic appeals to an older and more mature audience.
Don't get me wrong I still want to perform my high energy shows but I feel that this will give me the ability to cater my magic shows to every type of audience. The beauty of this type of magic in the cruise ship industry is that I don't have to have a camera crew or any camera equipment, they already have that on the ships. I can just focus on my show and once I have it nailed down I simply put a demo reel together so I can present it to the agents that book entertainment for cruise lines.
I believe this could be a great fly on act where I can perform on a cruise ship for a few days, then at the next port, fly to a different ship, or fly home. Being a family man with a wife and 3 kids I doubt I would want to do an extended stay on a cruise ship but if the right opportunity presented itself maybe I would consinder it.
I'm excited to see what 2017 has in store for my business and I feel blessed and give the glory to God for providing me with the skills and abilities to do what I love as my career!
(aka. The Amazing Ziggy)
The holiday's are a great time for coporate event planners to showcase their appreciation for their employees by having a formal gathering. No matter what you want to call it, A christmas party, holiday party, chuanaka party, kwanza party, etc...it's the perfect opportunity to hire a magician who can dazzle your guests with feats of amazement that will captivate their attention and keep everyone entertained and in good spirits. A magic show isn't just for kids, and corporations all over the world have figured this out as November thru January is one of the busiest times of the year for corporate magicians.
Magicians can customize a show that caters specially to your company, using your companies logo, slogan, products, and even the company president all major parts of the show. The shows can also be catered to a specific theme so if you want Santa's workshop brought to your event then the magician can design the set and all the assistance to be costumed as elves. You see Magic is a grand version of story telling in which the magical effects merely enhance the story and opens your imagination to the impossible.
The only downfall to hiring a magician for a corporate event for the holidays is that if you don't plan the event early you might not find a magician available for your event. So if you are seeking a holiday party magician then don't delay contact Ziggy Today! Ziggy has over 20 years of experience performing all over the US. www.Zmagicshow.com
Aaron Clark (aka. The Amazing Ziggy)
My Name is Aaron Clark and I'm know as The Amazing Ziggy. I've been a Professional Magician for over 20 years performing all over the US and internationally, but mostly for events on the east coast in the Atlanta Area.