HJR 86, the brainchild of Rep. Tom Loehner, R-Koeltztown, (pictured testifying at Senate hearing) had been rewritten nine times, that’s a 9, as of Wednesday morning before the public Senate hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment. But what HJR 86 really needed was to be eighty-sixed. It was godawful on more than one level, but especially because the perfected language in the House–and I use the term “perfected” ironically–tells anti-CAFO activists that they can kiss any local control over factory farms good-bye. Only the (currently in the pocket of the Farm Bureau) state legislature can do any regulating:
[N]o law criminalizing or regulating crops or the welfare of domesticated animals will be valid unless based upon generally accepted scientific principles and enacted by the General Assembly.
But that language is gone from the Senate version. Senators, especially those on the Ag Committee, thought better of it when they found themselves bombarded with phone calls and e-mails from irate rural Missourians. (This is not the first time those folks have–please forgive the pun–saved our bacon on this issue.) The Senate version, as of Wednesday morning, read:
[N]o state law criminalizing or otherwise regulating the welfare or breeding of any domesticated animals shall be valied unless it has been enacted by the general assembly or promulgated by administrative rule and unless it is consistent with scientific and economic standards generally accepted within the agricultural community.
“Administrative rule” is a fancy-schmancy term granting some local control.
That change in wording means that there is one serious flaw in this bill that’s now unlikely to survive the legislative process. Leaving only two others. Of course, if the senators eliminate the other two, the whole bill would evaporate. Which would be the best possible solution.
And what would those other problems with HJR 86 be? See if you can figure it out. Because I’m not explaining it until my next posting on this bill.
Update: I was wrong about the House bill eliminating local control. If I had paid better attention, I’d have noticed that the beginning of the sentence I quoted from the perfected bill specifies such control:
Notwithstanding that this section shall in no way prohibit or limit the right of any county or city to enact ordinances, no state law criminalizing or otherwise regulating crops or the welfare of any domesticated animals shall be valid unless based upon generally accepted scientific principles and enacted by the general assembly.
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, called me to point out that he had that language added to the House bill. Good for him! (And a raspberry for me.) Thanks, Chris.
(Even with local control intact in both the House and Senate versions, though, the bill is still a turkey.)