Before the Vote
The third reading and vote on SB 113 is listed as the 8th item of business today in the Senate. It's a toss whether the vote will happen today or not. I believe it will. Regardless, I'll be listening, just in case, and I'll be recording the debate and vote when they occur.
This vote has been a long time coming, and the way has been rough. The very first bill filed about Proposition B was Senator Stouffer's bill, SB 4. Unlike SB 113, with it's "fix", Senator Stouffer's bill was a repeal of Proposition B. In many ways, it was the most honest bill filed about Proposition B.
We've been told, from both Senate and the House of Representative members, that their only interest is to "fix" the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. Yet, one only has to examine the statements made at meetings these representatives had in their districts, to see that there has never been any interest to "fix" problems with the text—the intent was either to repeal it, or to pull every last meaningful requirement in the bill.
Representative Chris Kelly came out with some editorials supposedly urging compromise, but never once did he mention what was good about Proposition B. He wouldn't even praise the requirement that demanded continuous access to potable, clean, and unfrozen water free of contaminants. All he would say is that Proposition B was "unbalanced and fatally flawed".
"Unbalanced and fatally flawed" are not the words of a person with his hands outstretched, wanting to work with those who backed Proposition B.
During the House meetings on HB 131 (the House version of SB 113), the only change that the agricultural committee members mentioned that was a genuine fix, was changing the text of the bill so that the breeding cycle rest period extended only to females. There's not a person who favored Proposition B who would have a problem with this modification to the text.
But when the Senate and House members made their "fix", they also completely pulled the rest cycle requirement. This isn't a "fix", this is a complete repeal.
Senator Parson made much of solid flooring in Tuesday's debate. Where is the definition for solid flooring in criminal statutes, he asked. Yet if one of the proposed changes to Proposition B had been an extended definition of solid flooring, it's unlikely most Proposition B folks would have a problem with this action. But what Senator Parson did, was remove all of the criteria for any kind of flooring other than the wire flooring that exists now.
Again, this isn't a "fix", this is a complete repeal.
Senator Parson also implied that he reached out to the Proposition B community. As you can see from the beginning section of my Dissecting Michael Parson's SB 113 article, he didn't reach far. The only meetings I know of that he had were held in conjunction with the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen's Association, or both.
During the public hearings on HB 131, rather than be open with those testifying in support of Proposition B, Representative Jason Smith grilled them, like he was a prosecutor, and they were criminal scum. He also neglected to mention his own personal involvement in the issue, which should have ethically kept him from actively participating.
These are not the actions of a people wanting to compromise. As oil and cattleman Forrest Lucas so eloquently put it, at one of Senator Parson's "community meetings", these are the actions of a people wanting to "bloody the nose of HSUS". And they took these actions less because they wanted to support the dog breeders, and more because they wanted to "hurt" HSUS.
Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, is not about HSUS. Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, is about the dogs. It doesn't matter who sponsored the ads, because in the end it came down to how we, the people of Missouri, felt about this issue. I didn't become involved in this bill because of HSUS, I became involved because I read through the USDA inspection reports and was appalled at the picture they painted of the large scale commercial dog breeding industry in this state. I became involved because I was embarrassed about living in the state known as the "Puppy Mill Capital of the US". How could I not become involved after seeing the results of rescues from bad breeders in the news, again, and again, and again.
I have to wonder: how many inspection reports did these senators and representatives read? How many kennels have they visited, especially without advance notice? I think we would find the answer to both of these questions to be "none" and "none". This may sound harsh, but in my opinion, these representatives just don't care about the quality of life for the dogs in these kennels. The only thing they care about, is to "bloody the nose" of HSUS.
Even if it it means beating the vote of the people of Missouri to a pulp in the process.
Even if it means condemning dogs in too many of these breeding operations to a life of hell.
Even if it means continuing to tarnish the image of this state, and how the rest of this country perceives us.