The 2nd Regular Session of the 96th General Assembly is coming to a close. Just a mere two weeks remain for the legislature to wrap up the business of the state for the year before returning to the district for the summer months. As the debates get heated during the final push, it is often easy for a legislator to lose focus on the individuals they represent in the State Capitol. However, it is of the utmost importance, especially in these final hours, that one must remember that it is you, the constituent that is relying on me, the elected official, to be your voice in Jefferson City.
Admittedly, there is a need for education reform in the state of Missouri. However, we must make sure the implementations we make at the state level, make sense for the entire state and do not schools, such as the ones in our district, that are succeeding. It did not take long for me to receive numerous e-mails from teachers all across the 144th District, voicing their concerns with House Bill 1256. I greatly appreciated getting your feedback, and I kept those concerns fresh in my mind when it came time to vote. Despite the heavy pressure from many to vote yes, ultimately I am your voice in Jefferson City and thus I remained an adamant no vote.
HB 1526 serves as a good example of how some can get lost in the whirlwind. There were several moments when it appeared that the legislation would not make it out of the House, but eventually enough votes were garnered to third read and pass the bill to the Missouri Senate.
Not only does the pressure grow in the fleeting moments of session, but so does the attempt to pass legislation that looks good on the cover, but not in the fine details. Senate Bill 566 is a prime example.
SB 566 deals with the vaccination of cats and dogs for rabies, in specific trying to hinder the spread of rabies to humans. At first this seems like a good idea, however the details of the language are fatally flawed. SB 566 places new requirements on all dog and cat owners by requiring all of dogs and cats to be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian. This would be a statewide requirement applying to all dogs and cats, even if they never come in contact with anyone but the owner, such as a barn cat.
According to the sponsor, the bill is targeted at individuals who are not cooperative when their animal bites another person. Unfortunately, it unfairly impacts everyone, rather than specifically targeting those few individuals. Rural residents whose dogs and cats rarely come in contact with anyone outside of the owner are especially unfairly penalized.
The legislation makes it to where an individual is responsible for the animal if they harbor it for only a mere three days. After only three days one would be responsible for ensuring that the cat or dog has been vaccinated for rabies. Just imagine having to catch all of your barn cats to take them to a licensed veterinarian. Under SB 566 this would be a requirement.
Not only does the legislation place heavy burdens on people who do not put the rights or safety of others in risk, it also subjects the people of Missouri to the laws enacted by an organization whose members are not elected by or representative of Missourians (The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians). This is a serious constitutional threat since the Missouri Constitution states “the people of this state have the inherent, sole and exclusive right to regulate the internal government and police thereof and “we are subject only to the Constitution of the United States.”
For more information about the legislation mentioned above or about any others that have been introduced please visit the House of Representatives website, www. house.mo.gov. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House of Representatives.