Yesterday, the Kansas City Star posted an editorial opinion in reaction to the Missouri Senate's Actions regarding Proposition B.
However, when I read their editorial, there are no fewer than 3 major factual errors in their 4 paragraphs that actually talke about the law -- which makes me wonder, did they actually read the law they're commenting on?
On Thursday, the Missouri Senate passed SB 113. You can read the law in its entirety here. The law is meant to replace Proposition B, that was voted in as a citizen's initiative by a 51.6% margin in November. You can read the Star's editorial without my comments here, but below is the editorial, with my comments in Blue.
Apparently determined to preserve Missouri’s status as the nation’s “puppy mill capital,” the state Senate has passed legislation dismantling the humane protections approved by voters in November.
The bill gives breeders permission to continue business as usual — stacking dogs in wire cages (This is specifically prohibited in 273.347 Section 1 --beginning the very last paragraph on page 6), subjecting them to extreme heat and cold (prohibited on lines 82 and 83), and depriving them of clean water.
Breeders who repeatedly violate the law would be subject to misdemeanor charges, not felony charges as called for in the voter-approved Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act (The voter approved initiative never called for felony charges either. Lines 106-111 detail the criminal statutes under Prop B (which have been removed) and they only call for Class C misdemeanors for first offenses, and Class A misdemeanors for repeat offenses. These are the same classes of penalties detailed in SB 113 -- the new criminal statutes are in section 273.347 lines 17-21 . Operators also could no longer be limited to 50 breeding dogs at one time.
Passing the bill on a 20-14 vote, senators showed an arrogant disrespect for Missourians who passed Prop B with 51.6 percent of the vote.
Lawmakers preposterously claim that voters didn’t understand the ballot proposition. (It certainly appears that if voters were getting their information about the ballot proposition from the local newspaper of record here in KC, they may not have actually understood what they were voting on).
Here is what Missourians understood: The state’s dog-breeding industry is riddled with problems. Raids turn up starved, mangy and tormented animals. Pet stores and consumers across the country have complained about problems with Missouri-bred puppies. The state legislature, held hostage to interests that regard dogs as just another form of livestock, has ignored the problems for years. (In fairness to the Senate, along with the other changes to Prop B, some that needed to be done, some that didn't, they also increased the maximum licensing fees for breeding operations, something that was recommended by the Missouri State Auditor and the Better Business Bureau. The increased fees will enable the state to better enforce current regulations, as well as the regulations under SB 113. It has been well-documented that enforcement has been a huge issue. Meanwhile, SB 113 also mandates a $25 a year fee for all breeding operations, shelters, rescues and pounds that go to fund Operation Bark Alert -- which has led to the closing down of 360+ breeding operations and led to the rescue of more than 4500 dogs in less than 2 years of operation. The Star excluded this from their commentary).
All senators from Jackson, Clay and Platte counties voted “no” on the bill Thursday, except for Victor Callahan of Independence, who also was the only Democrat to vote against the wishes of the state’s voters. Sen. David Pearce, a Republican who represents Cass County, voted yes.
The move to undo Proposition B could still be halted by the House or by a veto from Gov. Jay Nixon. One or the other needs to stop this affront to dogs and to Missouri voters.
(And the Star needs to stop this affront to its readers. Really, if you're going to call out the Senate for changing a law, at least know what it is the law says). The citizens in this city deserve better than this type of commentary and misinformation.
For a more detailed breakdown on Prop B, I've broken it down over at the KC Dog Blog.