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Humane Society Legislative Fund of Missouri 2019 Legislative Report

The 2019 Missouri legislative session marked the first session for which HSLFMO was present and active. It was a heavy session and big haul for organization. We celebrate the defeat of dozens of disastrous animal-related legislation that would have harmed thousands and thousands of animals in our state and celebrate the passing of a bill that will increase poaching penalties for certain species in Missouri.

For months, you - our advocates - and our staff have dedicated efforts to important animal welfare related bills. In every case, we believe our collective efforts have been critically important and effective. Many of the bills we defeated we expect to resurface, but our efforts will continue in the off-season to ensure they are defeated again next year.

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Thank you to all of you who continue to help spread the word, volunteer and support our organization. We look forward to the countless opportunities we will have to help spearhead further efforts to improve policies, regulations and enforcement for our state’s four-legged friends. Our work going forward will continue to involve creating fundamental updates and changes to the many challenges issues that have remained unaddressed for years in Missouri - including puppy mill production, pet store sales, cruelty and abuse regarding companion, working, wildlife and livestock animals, and more. This means our work is not easy. But as our society becomes more sensitive to the suffering of animals and intolerant of cruelty, there are more openings for implementing humane approaches to pressing issues.

Read on for more details about the priority legislation from the 2019 legislative session.

Good Bills

House Bill 260, to increase civil penalties for poaching penalties for certain animals, was sponsored by Rep. Taylor. The bill was ultimately passed on May 7, 2019 after receiving 138 in-favor votes. After being signed into law, the bill will specify that any person found guilty of chasing, pursuing, taking, transporting, killing, processing, or disposing of certain wildlife in violation of the Missouri Conservation Commission's rules and regulations will be forced to make restitution to the state. Our organization was successful in securing multiple hearings for this bill.

House Bill 297, to end breed specific legislation (BSL) statewide, was sponsored by Rep. Hicks. The bill would have prohibited villages, towns, and cities from regulating dogs in a breed-specific manner, such as bully breeds. We know that BSL has been proven at being ineffective at preventing dog bites or other dangerous dog encounters. BSL provisions are costly to our state and difficult to enforce. As a result, BSL laws are a burden to the taxpayer and result in the euthanasia of thousands of dogs a year that could otherwise be placed into loving and caring homes. Our organization was successful in securing multiple hearings for this bill but unfortunately, the bill died in the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee in the House.

Bad Bills

Senate Bill 391, to block localities from regulating factory farms, was sponsored by Rep. Bernskoetter. Senate bill was ultimately passed and signed by Gov. Parson. The bill will go into effect on August 28, 2019. This bill will ban county commissions and health center boards from regulating standards or enacting requirements on any agricultural operation, effectively eliminating local control for municipalities. These local ordinances (in over 20 counties) exist to better protect their citizens from industrialized agriculture, including exposure to air and water pollution and property rights. It will leave millions of agriculture animals vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

House Bill 951, to prohibit cities and counties from inspecting animal agriculture facilities, and block law enforcement and animal control officers from inspecting dog breeding facilities, animal abuse complains, petting and roadside zoos for any violation, was sponsored by Rep. Haden. The bill moved quickly at the beginning of the session but ultimately died in the Senate.

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House Bill 559, to prohibit cities and counties from enacting regulation on commerce animals, was sponsored by Rep. Haden. This bill was a deliberate attempt of industry self-regulation. It would have left thousands of commerce animals at risk and placed undue hardship on Missouri localities - stripping their right to regulate puppy mills, pet stores selling puppies from puppy mills, circus and exotic animals, horse carriages, service animals, factory farming, and more. The bill ultimately died in the Senate.

House Bill 204, to block animal control officers housed under public health departments from applying for warrants in animal cruelty cases, was sponsored by Rep. Anderson. This bill would have changed the cost of animal care provisions for seized animals and shortened the disposition hearing from 30 days to 10. This bill ultimately died in the the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee.

What's next?

The Missouri legislature will not reconvene for regular session until January 2020. Until then, we must work together to make animal welfare related legislation a non-partisan issue. And we need your help to do so.

We encourage you to make an appointment with your legislator in your district during the off-season, regardless of political affiliation or how they voted in the past. In a short meeting, you can communicate the importance of these issues through the eyes of their constituent. As their constituent, you hold the power. You elect them into the office and they should respectfully represent your view and understand that you, and many Missourians, care deeply about animal protection in our state.

You can look up your legislator and their contact information here. Interested in learning more about how to be a citizen lobbyist? Please click here to learn more from our affiliate organization.

For any questions or if you need additional resources on what you can do to help, please e-mail info@hslfmissouri.org.

Please stay tuned for candidate survey and endorsements!

Other Ways to Help

The HSLFMO is a registered 501(c)4 nonprofit, dependent on donations to continue our work. Our funding comes from individuals like you who consciously value animals and invest in a more compassionate future. Donations are not tax-deductible, but are critical to allow us to lobby on behalf of Missouri's animals.

Your gift allows us to advance critical animal protection legislation through lobbying, research, local education and community outreach, and come one step closer to ending animal abuse in Missouri. You will help us to change laws and policies to protect countless animals in our state, advocate for their protection and foster respect for animal welfare in the state. Please click here to contribute.