The legislature could undo the measure that anti-puppy mill groups spent more than $4 million to push to voters.
A bill that would repeal key provisions of the voter-approved Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act
, better known as Proposition B, sailed through a committee of the Missouri House of the Representatives on Tuesday -- setting the stage for a full vote of the House in coming weeks.
Missouri voters approved Prop B by the slimmest of margins in November
, and backers like the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA have been fighting a desperate battle to stop the Legislature from gutting the ballot initiative ever since.
In fact, the ASPCA's Tim Rickey estimates that approximately 50 Prop B supporters came to the Statehouse yesterday to express their support for the new law and make clear their opposition to repealing or gutting the new laws mandated by the ballot proposition.
But it may be too little, too late to stop HB 131, which earned the unanimous vote of the House Agriculture Policy Committee Tuesday.
Rickey says that, in some cases, the legislators refused even to pay lip service to the Prop B supporters yesterday. "That part was pretty disappointing," he tells Daily RFT
. "Some senators were willing to meet and engage with us, but we had some that were not. They were just dead set on gutting Prop B."
And while legislators have shied away from outright repealing the law --
"Missouri voters spoke out against that very quickly, and they
recognized that repeal would not work," Rickey says -- the bills that
are succeeding in committee are not mere modifications. Indeed, the bill that passed committee earlier this week, HB 131, would invalidate just about everything in Prop B -- even down to its name. The version of the bill approved in committee would actually rename the new law the "Dog Breeders Cruelty Prevention Act," since many breeders oppose the very name of "puppy mill."
The bill would also remove all limits on the number of dog a breeder could own (Prop B capped the number of breeding dogs at 50); exempt any breeder with fewer than 100 female dogs from any of its rules; and remove provisions requiring that dogs have room to move in their cages, veterinary care, and rest between breeding cycles.
You can read the official House summary here
. The bill's primary sponsor is Republican Stanley Cox of Sedalia
; he has no fewer than 12 co-sponsors.
A similar bill has passed a Senate committee and is likely headed to the full body for a vote, Rickey says.
For more background on Prop B, read Kase Wickman's story here