The state legislature sent one agriculture bill to the governor and advanced another on its final day before spring break.
The legislature advanced the provisions found in an agriculture omnibus bill that fell to a governor’s veto last year, except for language that would have defined captive deer as livestock.
Senator Brian Munzlinger’s (R-Williamstown) omnibus this year adds a permanent weight restriction adjustment for hauling grain to market during harvest. Republican Margo McNeil (D-Florissant) said that’s a bad idea when the Transportation Department says by 2017 it will lack funding to maintain all the state’s roads.
“We’re going to be lucky in 2017, if we don’t do something in this body to get our potholes repaired, and yet we’re passing legislation that allows the roads to be torn up,” said McNeil.
Munzlinger told Missourinet no one is more concerned about roads in rural areas than he is. He said in his district, two bridges are closed and about nine more have severe weight restrictions.
“Even though we raised the limits on these trucks for harvest, if you’re over limit you still have to abide by the laws on those bridges,” said Munzlinger.
His bill with seven provisions goes back to the Senate because the House removed from it a number of provisions meant to help the state’s dairy producers. The Senate, meanwhile, passed those provisions in a separate bill that now goes to the governor.
That bill would, among other things, create a subsidy of 70-percent of the cost of federal margin insurance for dairy producers.
Representative Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho) said if the governor signs the bill into law, it would be up to the legislature whether to provide money for that subsidy each year.
“It is subject to appropriations, and I think people need to understand that it has to go through the appropriation process,” said Reiboldt.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion pointed to majority Republican support of that bill as being hypocritical, saying the party is supportive of using tax dollars to subsidize an Obama administration program that helps dairy farmers but not one that would provide medical coverage to more Missourians.
Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), who is supportive of Medicaid expansion and reform, said on Twitter, “Today, the Senate again showed support for ObamaCows by approving a 70% state premium assistance for federal insurance … on cows.”
Representative Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City) said on Twitter, “The MO Senate is now debating the Affordable Cow Act. Insurance subsidies for dairy cows is okay. Not for people though.”
The bill also creates a scholarship program for students who will work in Missouri’s dairy industry and would require an annual study of the state’s dairy industry by the University of Missouri’s commercial ag program.