Missouri Governor Signs Bill to Undo Prop B, amid Big Ag’s Efforts to Deter Animal Protection
Earlier this afternoon, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed SB 113 to repeal Prop B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act approved by voters in November 2010. The governor made a deal with the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and some non-government parties, to support a separate bill (SB 161) to partially restore a few provisions of Prop B. He’s terming the enactment of both bills to be a compromise, and says he’s going to put more money into enforcement of the law.
Dogs at a licensed puppy mill in Missouri, one of the
"Dirty Dozen" facilities compiled by The HSUS.
In a blog last week, I examined this compromise and showed how it dramatically weakens Prop B. But more broadly, the attack in the state legislature on Prop B has been a shameful example of politics at its worst, with a narrow majority of lawmakers and now the governor subverting a vote of the people that occurred just a few months ago. Politicians refused for decades to deal with the puppy mill problem, and now after voters decided they had enough with the state’s inaction and passed a ballot initiative, the politicians in the state have decided they know better than the people.
Of course, Missouri’s puppy mill industry has always advocated for de facto de-regulation. But that bunch didn’t have the power to subvert a vote of the people. It was Missouri’s agriculture industry that provided the muscle to overturn Prop B–the same agriculture lobby that some years ago worked to pass state legislation to establish criminal penalties for documenting what occurs on factory farms.
That idea has now spread, as I’ve written recently about efforts by lawmakers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida to push sweeping measures to make it a crime to take pictures of farm animals and dogs on puppy mills. It’s aimed at HSUS and other animal protection groups that have done groundbreaking investigations that exposed cruelty, both legal and illegal.
Today, New York Times columnist Mark Bittman has a devastating column calling out agribusiness, in the wake of a deeply disturbing Mercy for Animals investigation in Texas that showed farm workers trying to kill cows with pick-axes and hammers. It’s a must-read.
The editorial board of the Times also opined against these bills, as have newspapers throughout the country and in Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.