I have been following this legislation for a very long time. I even watched the 2008 hearing when it was broadcast on the Internet.
This is a horrible bill and all pet lovers should oppose it, but you should also understand what you are opposing. There were some inaccuracies in the original post that you don't want to repeat because if you use those as your argument, your argument will immediately be shot down and your valid points will go unheard.
This bill is not meant to be targeted at domestic rats and is a more serious concern for those who own more wild-type "exotic" animals like reptiles, fish, or birds. However, the way it is worded and organized, it can easily become a threat to domestic rats even though it was not intended that way.
The list of species in the law itself are not the only species that will be excluded. There will be a white list of approved species and a black list of unapproved species. However, the list of species listed in the legislation are guaranteed to be on the white list and that cannot change without a change being made to the law. Changes to the lists themselves can be made by the Director without changing the law. This is also troubling because even if rats are on the white list when this passes, they could later be changed to the black list without requiring a change in law. It is even more troubling that by default, any species not listed in the white list is automatically in the black list.
If your animal of choice ends up getting put on the black list, it is up to public uprising to fight and strike it down. This is very hard to do and very expensive to try and likely to be unsuccessful. What is worse, it becomes a divide and conquer method. A bill like this has a better chance of getting shot down because people from all aspects of the pet trade are affected and stand up to fight it. The herpetology groups are fighting it. The aquarium groups are fighting it. The avicultural groups are fighting it. The pet trade industry is fighting it. However, if just one animal is targeted later by adding them to the black list (say rats), then it is just the rat community trying to strike it down all on their own. If the other groups say, "its just rats, they don't affect me" and don't fight it, we are on our own and not organized or funded and we likely would have little voice (unless some larger entity such as research institutions using rats would be affected and step up to fight for us).
If this bill is passed, all other animals (that are not on this list) will be "exterminated" by the government, and if you are caught owning one you will be charged a $10,000 fine. This means you cannot own common household pets such as hedgehogs, rats, chinchillas, turtles, lizards, or any fish besides a goldfish (no tropical fish, etc.). Please sign this petition to hinder the passing of the outrageous bill. Tell me what you think about this!
This quote is not exactly correct. The law itself does not prevent you from owning animals that are not on the list. Any animals you own now are grandfathered in. You can even acquire new animals after the law is passed. What you cannot do is import the animal into the US or transport the animal across state lines or own any animal that has been imported or transported illegally. Those animals can be confiscated and you can be fined for owning them.
If rats were to end up not included on the white list, you would not be able to move out of your state with your rats. You would not be able to rehome your rats to someone in another state. You would not be able to take your rats with you on a trip out of state. Animal rescue rat trains will be history. The average person might not get caught, but there is no way a licensed rescue would risk adopting out to an out-of-stater. I am not sure how rat shows are run, but with bird shows, they would be finished, because no one would be able to cross state lines to participate in out-of-state shows. I imagine rat shows would face similar problems.
The law does state that other animals shown to be domesticated would be excluded, but because rats are not explicitly listed you can't assume they are safe. One would think that there would be no issues proving rats are domesticated, but without having them explicitly listed, there is no guarantee. Plus, much of the public is misinformed about rats and could easily view them as being "invasive" despite being domesticated.
This law is very, very bad to pet owners. Even if rats were explicitly excluded, anyone who believes in the right to own pets should fight it. It could become a great tool for those excessive animal rights groups like PETA that no longer fight for the welfare of pets but instead fight to stop pet ownership altogether.
Here is some more information on it: http://reefbuilders.com/2013/03/20/hr-996/