Compromise legislation that would prohibit Missouri cities and towns from banning the use of a working animal was heard Tuesday afternoon by a House committee in Jefferson City.

State Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown)

Missouri Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee Chairman Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, testifies efforts to ban carriage rides in St. Louis prompted this bill.

Munzlinger emphasizes he’s worked with all parties on the bill’s language.

“This bill does not take away local control and the ability of the cities to make rules about working animals on public streets, especially when it comes to the health and welfare of the animals or the citizens,” Munzlinger testifies.

Munzlinger’s bill defines “working animal” as the use of any animal for the purpose of performing a specific duty in entertainment, transportation or educational exhibits.

Munzlinger notes the bill creates a definition that lawmakers have never had before. Livestock animals are not included in the definition.

During his testimony, Munzlinger emphasized multiple times that his legislation to prohibit cities and towns from banning the use of working animals still protects local control.

“So if the city of St. Louis feels that they need to say there should not be any horse-drawn carriages out in rush-hour traffic, that’s okay, as long as the rules and regulations are not intended to ban the whole industry,” says Munzlinger.

Munzlinger testified before the Missouri House Agriculture Policy Committee, which is chaired by veteran State Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg.

Chairman Houghton hopes the compromise legislation will be approved by the end of session, which is May 18.

Houghton’s committee heard about 45 minutes of testimony Tuesday, including Missouri Farm Bureau’s testimony expressing concern with some of the bill’s language.

“The concerns that I’ve heard deals with a city or municipality imposing fees upon these folks that own working animals that could possibly keep them from doing business in a town,” Houghton says.

Munzlinger responded to Farm Bureau’s language concerns during the hearing, saying that the bill has been “out there” for four months.

Houghton tells Missourinet his policy is for the committee to hear a bill one week and vote on it the following week, indicating the committee will likely vote next week.

The Senate has already passed the bill, and Munzlinger and Houghton are both hopeful the House can pass the same version by the end of session.

Houghton admits time is a factor, with the session’s end one month away.

This is the eighth version of Munzlinger’s bill.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and House Ag Policy Committee Chairman Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, which was recorded on April 17, 2018 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City: