JEFFERSON CITY – State lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that repeals a number of restrictions set in place by the dog-breeding law, passed by voters last November.
In a press conference following the House vote, Gov. Jay Nixon had little to say regarding his opinion of the legislation. He simply stated that he would be sure to review the bill and promised to continue the allocation of resources for law enforcement practices.
The law currently in place tightens the rules governing practices of dog-breeders throughout the state. The legislation passed by the House would undermine those restrictions.
The bill removes the 50-dog limit placed on kennels as well as requirements for larger cages. Instead, the bill requires using regulations to be set by the Department of Agriculture.
The new legislation would also allow for civil penalties and misdemeanor charges for repeat offenses, apply a $25 annual fee to support law enforcement efforts and allow licensing costs of up to $2,500 instead of $500.
Rep. Tom Loehner, R-Koeltztown, who handled the bill in the House, said the restrictions imposed by Proposition B would call for extensive renovations to the state’s kennels, putting some breeding operations out of business.
“Don’t go out and punish everyone that is in this industry,” Loehner said. “Whether they are doing a good job or not, that is totally wrong.”
Bill supporters maintain that voters were unaware of the costly consequences that the law would have on dog-breeders — a claim that critics of the legislation argue against fiercely.
“I’m extremely upset that not only I, but a million other voters in the state of Missouri, voted in favor of Prop B,” Branson resident Becky Iverson said. “And for whatever reason, our legislature has decided that the people don’t apparently know what they need.”
Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, said the legislation sets a dangerous precedent.
“We’re overturning the voice of the people; it disenfranchises them,” Wright-Jones said. “We need to live with what the people say. That’s the process and we’re turning it around.”
The legislation has been the source of heated debate over the course of the spring session, with protests at the Capitol happening almost weekly. The most recent occurred Tuesday when volunteers from local shelters and the Humane Society of Missouri turned out in an eleventh hour effort to defend Proposition B.
Following the Senate’s passage of the legislation in March, the House gave its approval Wednesday in a vote of 85-71. It will now go before the Democratic governor to sign into law.