Yesterday, Governor Nixon proudly announced that a slew of Missouri agricultural and animal groups had reached a “compromise” on Proposition B, the hotly contested measure to restrict large-scale dog breeding operations that was passed by voters last November and recently flattened by the passage of a controversial bill in the Missouri House and Senate.
Over the past week, my administration has been working closely with folks on every side of this issue to reach an agreement that respects the will of the voters, protects dogs and allows responsible breeders to earn a living in our state. People with good minds and good will have come together to develop a Missouri solution to this Missouri issue, and together, we have made significant progress. Throughout this process, I have met personally with representatives of Missouri’s major animal-welfare and agricultural organizations, and with leaders on this issue in both the House and the Senate. The agreement that was signed today upholds the intent of the voters, protects dogs and ensures that Missouri agriculture will continue to grow. I look forward to continuing to work with these leaders as we move this proposal through the legislative process as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
Coincidentally, this announcement came on the same day that SB 113 landed on the Governor’s desk for final approval or otherwise. Quick flashback to the timeless lessons of Schoolhouse Rock: the governor has 14 days remaining to veto the bill, sign it or let it go into effect without his signature. Any superseding legislation also has to pass through the Senate and House within this time frame.
The new agreement does restore a lot of the basic standards of care for dogs in “breeding facilities” and includes an additional $1.1 million in enforcement funding – which isn’t small potatoes. Gone, though is the 50 dog limit (regardless of care-giver to dog ratio) and the updgraded felony charge for breeders who violate the new law – which will remain a misdemeanor under the new “solution.”
Also gone from the original language of Prop B: lots of specifics. For example, in the original bill, “Adequate rest between breeding cycles” was defined as such:
…at minimum, ensuring that dogs are not bred to produce more than two litters in any eighteen-month period.
The new agreement defines it this way:
…at minimum, ensuring that female dogs are not bred to produce more litters in any given period than what is recommended by a licensed veterinarian as appropriate for the species, age and health of the dog.
Or in other words:
…as often as I can get my lowest common denominator vet to say is OK.
Here’s my favorite change in the new solution though:
“Sufficient food and clean water” means…continuous access to potable water that is not frozen and is free of debris, feces, algae and other contaminants.
“Sufficient food and clean water” means…continuous access to potable water that is not frozen and is generally free of debris, feces, algae and other contaminants.
Isn’t that just the most perfect example of half-a$$ed lip service you’ve ever seen?
I really hate to sound unreasonable. Certainly, I understand that this new proposal is better than SB 113, but the fact remains that Proposition B was approved by Missouri voters. The end. We shouldn’t be asked to compromise on an issue that has already been settled.
I understand that Governor Nixon desperately wants to stay out of this fight (given that he’s up for re-election next year) but in the absence of his willingness to honor the democratic process with an outright veto of SB 113, I have to hope that the same rural legislators who insisted on ignoring voters in favor of generous agricultural interests the first time around will dig in their heels on the compromise as well – forcing him to actually take a side.
I can’t imagine Nixon would favor the minority in light of all the national attention this issue has generated, but even if he did, that leaves the door open for voters to have the (final) final say at the ballot box next year. Something (like history!) tells me I know what they’d decide.