Last fall Proposition B, a petition to curb illegal dog breeders in Missouri, passed by the narrowest of margins thanks to the urban vote. The public campaign was led and financed by the Humane Society of the United States. When HSUS submitted their proposal last year, the claim was to target only the estimated 3000 illegal breeders in the state and there was no hidden agenda.
None the less, Proposition B did affect legitimate dog breeders, and it wasn’t until after it passed that most of the public started to realize what actually was included in the new law. Concerns that there was a hidden agenda made Prop. B so controversial that it was defeated in rural areas and reform actions, as heard here in Missouri State Senate Floor Debate from March 2011 on SB113 and 95, were soon being discussed.
Now, not even six months after the passing of Prop. B, HSUS is back with a new ballot initiative that would require a three quarters majority from both the Missouri Senate and House to change what was enacted by the voters in November. As it is right now, only a simple majority is needed for the reforms being proposed. Wasting no time, signature collections began immediately, and HSUS has until May 2012 to submit them to the Secretary of State’s office.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon did announce a compromise solution last week. Governor Nixon’s “Missouri Solution” doesn’t affect what was already passed as much as it affects the legislation currently before him. It is his hope that the proposed reform will allay some fears. More importantly, the new compromise is supported by both the Missouri farmers and the Humane Society of Missouri. HSUS, as anticipated, is strongly opposed to the action saying “the voters’ will has been jettisoned”.
Shortly after the public statement from the governor’s office both sides began to gather their supporters. Wednesday in Jefferson City, an area that passed Proposition B, supporters for both sides held opposing rallies. Farmers, ranchers and their supporters reportedly numbered more than 1000, while the Columbia Missourian estimated the rally on behalf of HSUS produced only around 100 people as seen here.
Senator Brian Munzlinger of District 18, voiced his support of both Senate Bill 113 and 95 in his legislative column. He made his opinion crystal clear in his conclusion by saying:
“If we let the HSUS continue down this path in Missouri, we are putting an “out of business” sign on the state. Missouri’s cattle industry in 2007 was $1.7 billion. I ask you to think about your local school district, hospitals, and ambulance boards — a large portion of the personal property taxes that keep these going are paid by taxpayers whose monetary livelihood is tied to agriculture. You could potentially see chains and padlocks around the front doors of our schools. We cannot let this happen.”
Both sides feel confident that an informed public will side with them, however the FACTS pertaining to Missouri must be represented by both sides or the public will feel as if they are led astray once again. It is clear that HSUS will not back down without a fight. However, if last Wednesday is any indication, they may not be prepared for the passionate animal agriculture community and their grassroots supporters.