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Area legislators and representatives of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners and the Missouri Pet Breeders Association outlined some of the proposed legislation in Missouri which would affect several areas of agriculture production at a meeting Saturday night, March 5, at Wright County Livestock, Mtn. Grove.
The major portion of the meeting centered on proposed modifications of recent voter approved initiative petition Proposition B which effects dog breeding operations. The meeting was sponsored by the Wright County Farm Bureau.
Tony Dugger, 144th District Missouri Representative, encouraged persons to contact their legislative representatives concerning the proposed changes to portions of Proposition B.
Dugger pointed out that House Bill 131, which would make changes to Proposition B, had made it through the House Committee and is progressing through the legislature.
He explained some of the changes would include removing the phrasing “puppy mill” with Cruelty Prevention Act, left requirements for space, etc., up to the Department of Agriculture, increased the number of required veterinary visits from one to two, stated that any breeders who house dogs in stacked cages must have an impervious barrier between them (already in law).
Missouri Representative Don Wells, 147th District, added that the proposed provisions now include everyone, not just the pet breeders. He added that the proposal removed the restrictive number of 50, and defines pet as only to dogs.
Wells added that the proposal also requires that any charges for handling violations be brought in the county of the alleged violations.
Wells stated that he felt the people promoting Proposition B did not care about animals, only controlling people.
Rep. Darrell Pollock, 146th District, indicated that he asked the Missouri Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture to leave the development of rules and implementation of Proposition B until discussion was completed on current legislation.
Pollock also stated that he has introduced House Joint Resolution No. 5 as a direct result of the passage of Proposition B.
The Resolution would allow at the next general election in November, 2012, or at a special election that the voters of the state consider an amendment to the Missouri Constitution.
The proposal adds a new section which states “that the citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions as provided by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state’s power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species.”
Representative Jason Smith, 150th district, also indicated that he has introduced House Joint Resolution 17, which also would allow the public to vote on an amendment to the Missouri Constitution which would add a new section known as the “Freedom in Agriculture Act.”
The amendment would say “Agriculture which provides food, energy, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, it shall be the right of citizens to grow crops, hunt and fish wildlife, and raise animals in a humane manner without the state imposing an undue economic burden on animal owners. Notwithstanding the provisions of article III, section 49 and 50 to the contrary, no law regulating the growing of crops, the right to hunt and fish wildlife, and the welfare of any animal shall be valid unless based upon generally accepted scientific principles and enacted by the general assembly or promulgated by a state department or agency through administrative rule pursuant to valid statutory authority and reviewed by the joint committee on administrative rules.”
Smith questioned if the swine and poultry industries would be the next industries challenged.
Smith, an attorney, was asked if Proposition B could be declared unconstitutional now, because it tells persons how many dogs they can have. He indicated that since the bill involves criminal charges it would require someone to be charged before the legal challenge could be made to its constitutionality. He explained that he would like to do something before anyone is charged.
A question was asked if the entire referendum process was flawed. There was concern that financing from outside the state was having too much influence on issues. Several of the representatives in attendance indicated that reforms in this area were being considered.
Karen Strange, representing the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, indicated that she would like to repeal Proposition B, but was told a full repeal would not make it through the legislature.
She felt voters were concerned that animals be provided the proper food, water, shelter and veterinary care.
She indicated that they are trying to refine the Proposition to address these issues, and address substandard facilities.