Gov. Nixon has signed legislation replacing voter-approved regulations of dog breeders with a compromise his administration worked out between animal welfare organizations and agriculture groups.
The governor’s bill-signing ceremony and news conference capped a dizzying day of legislative activity. It began with the governor signing SB 113, which the legislature approved last week. After it passed, Nixon’s Agriculture Department announced it had reached an agreement between animal welfare organizations and agriculture groups. Negotiations between the Nixon Administration and legislative leaders reached agreement: Nixon would sign SB 113 and the legislature would add the compromise language to SB 161.
The House gutted SB 161 and inserted the compromise language. It approved the much revised SB 161 108-42, then approved an emergency clause 111-40. Anemergency clause makes a bill effective upon the signature of the governor. The bill quickly moved to the Senate and, after some confusion, the Senate approved the bill 24-10, voting 32-1 on the emergency clause. The governor signed the legislation a couple of hours later.
The compromise outlined by the State Agriculture Department would strengthen the language in SB 113, adding additional requirements for dog breeders. A separate piece of legislation would provide funding. The compromise being pushed by the Nixon Administration was reached with Kathy Warnick of the Humane Society of Missouri, Karen Strange of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, Bob Baker of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, Barbara York of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association and Don Nikodim of Missouri Farmers Care. State Agriculture Director Jon Hagler signed off on the deal.
Voters in November narrowly approved Proposition B; tight restrictions on the dog breeding industry. The vote disclosed one of the oldest splits in Missouri politics: rural versus urban. The issue lost badly in rural areas of the state, but won overwhelmingly in the metropolitan areas of Missouri squeaking out a 51-49 victory.