Governor Nixon signed Senate Bill 113 yesterday which would alter the controversial Proposition B. Passage of the bill opened the door for legislative debate on a second, so-called, compromise bill that further alters the breeding law to accommodate the concerns of state-level animal welfare organizations. That bill came up for debate on the House floor on Wednesday morning, shortly after the news of Nixon’s signing.
In a statement, Nixon praised the compromise, which he has dubbed the “Missouri solution” and called on lawmakers to pass it. Nixon says “The Missouri solution upholds the will of the voters by protecting the welfare of dogs, while also ensuring the future of Missouri agriculture.”
Both the bill signed by Nixon and the one now before the House rewrite the language of Prop B, the ballot issue voters approved last November. Since then, however, Nixon has negotiated with animal welfare groups and agriculture interests to find a middle ground between the Senate bill and the original proposition. That arrangement was worked out last week, but remained in legislative limbo until Wednesday.
The new legislative vehicle, Senate Bill 161, currently does not relate to dog-breeding. Lawmakers on Wednesday morning offered an amendment on the House floor to add Nixon’s compromise language. That wording would increase requirements for veterinary care of dogs in breeding operations and eventually mandate larger enclosures and access to the outdoors for dogs. The additional space requirements will be phased in over several years.
Beginning in 2012, enclosures must be twice as large as what is required under current law. That requirement will rise to three times current law in 2016. The law also calls for “unfettered” access for dogs to an outdoor area.
Even if the bill advances, it may still run into trouble with interest groups. National animal welfare groups like the Humane Society of the United States say the compromise bill is unacceptable, and have suggested they will work to oppose or overturn it.