Senators move to strip down puppy mill bill

Update: Thursday, March 10 at 6:10 p.m.:

In one of the closest votes of the year, the State Senate Thursday advanced legislation to repeal key elements of Proposition B.

That TMs the voter-approved referendum imposing new standards on the dog breeding industry.

The final Senate tally was 20-14 in favor, just 2 votes over the required minimum for passage.

Most of the support for the repeal came from republican lawmakers.

Others expressed concerns about public referendum, then voted against the repeal. That TMs because people back home supported Prop B.

"The Senator from Green 50.9% of your constituents, the senator from the second, 53.5%, the senator from Buchanon, 58.8% of your constituents wanted Proposition B, Sen. Jolie Justus, a democrat from Kansas City, said Thursday afternoon.

In all voters in 18 of the 34 senate districts supported the dog breeder changes.

Only 14 senators stood by the proposition in the face of repeal.

The House could take up the issue next week.

Original Story:

The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation repealing many parts of a dog-breeding law passed by voters last November.

A bill given first-round approval Tuesday would lift a limit of 50 dogs per breeder, which is scheduled to take effect later this year with the rest of the new law. It also would roll back provisions regulating water bowls and living conditions for dogs.

Proposition B targets large dog breeding operations with criminal penalties for violating tightly-defined conditions for the breeding environment. But some believe it could do much more.

"I believe Proposition B was an attack on a selected group," says Republican Senator Mike Parsons of Bolivar. "I also believe Proposition B was an attack on Missouri agriculture as a whole."

Parson's cited a reference to "domesticated animals" in Prop. B as evidence of that. His legislation strips the 50-dog limit and gets rid of the criminal penalties in favor of regulatory sanctions. He wants to refocus the attack on unlicensed breeders.

"We should be proud the dogs are bred in Missouri," says Republican Kevin Engler of Farmington. "And we should support those good breeders, not impose bad laws on them."

Senate detractors were subdued. One critic sought only to clarify that legal action would not have to begin with the Department of Agriculture.

"I don't want there to be a trigger that the director has to request that that action take place," said Democrat Jolie Justice of Kansas City. "I'd like the county attorney to be able to bring that on his or her own."

Justus suggested putting the question back on the ballot, but that was voted down. Parsons says the breeding industry supports his plan to boost licensing fees to as much as $2500, to provide for more state inspectors.

Skeptics like Howell County Republican Chuck Purgason want to be sure that's the only way that money can be used. "I don't what that dog breeding money to go to the Ag Department to fund an ethanol program."

The bill still needs a formal roll call vote before moving on to the House.