In November Missouri voters were faced with several ballot initiatives, including one which continues to be contentious today. Proposition B, also known as the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, was approved statewide by just over 51 percent of voters.
A key concern for many dissenting voices during the campaign -- and still today -- is language that some believe would open the door to damaging regulation of the agriculture industry. For this reason, among others, some Missouri lawmakers have introduced legislation that would provide greater clarification of the regulations.
In a recent town hall meeting, Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, outlined some of the proposed changes to Prop B. Changes include rewording the title of the bill, removing the limit on the number of dogs an owner can breed and removing time requirements between breeding cycles. Lichtenegger also expressed concern that the new regulations would not affect unlicensed breeders, citing the campaign images of mistreated dogs were from these situations.
Lichtenegger and State Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, who also spoke during the meeting, both contend that they are not discounting the voters' decision on the issue, but rather that the campaign was one founded on deception.
There is definitely an argument to be made that the people in the state have spoken, and the new regulations should be enacted as is. However, there is also a case to be made that the legislature has an obligation to question something when it doesn't pass the smell test.
It's reasonable to say that all good-hearted Missourians want dogs to be well taken care of and not abused. However, if the new regulations don't address unlicensed breeders, is a positive change really going to be made? If language is left vague, could this affect Missouri's agriculture industry in harmful ways? Missouri lawmakers have an obligation to ask these important questions, though they should be careful about altering the core components regarding dog breeding.