The Republican Party in microcosm, via Balloon Juice — last November the voters of Missouri passed (with 52 percent of the vote) a referendum called the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which established humane standards for dog breeding operations. The state had become known as the “puppy mill capital” because its lax and ambiguous laws allowed breeders to get away with horrendously substandard care.
The act requires that adult dogs be given a reasonable amount of space and shelter; it outlaws stacked cages with wire floors; it requires that dogs be fed at least once a day and have access to water at all times; it requires that each dog be seen by a vet at least once a year; it limits litters per dog to 2 within 18 months; it requires that euthanasia be performed by a vet. It also limits the number of adult breeding dogs that any person can possess to 50.
Unfortunately, voters also elected a pack of wingnut teabaggers to serve in the state legislature. And guess what? They’re tripping all over themselves in a mad rush to overturn the puppy mill regulations. Because, you know, Missouri doesn’t have any other problems that need attention.
People opposed to the “puppy mill” regulations called it big government run wild and even a step toward communism. Apparently the Daily Show featured one of the anti-regulation activists last year —
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Big Red Dogs|
Yes, the anti-regulation teabagger interviewed here really did explain that she is opposed to breeder regulations because “They’re expecting all the breeders to sit there and pay for exorbitant amounts of care that are not needed, like adequate food, adequate water, adequate space.”
A revised bill that already came out of committee eliminates the 50-dog limit and the provisions for providing space adequate for dogs to move — turn around, stretch, etc. — plus access to daily exercise. This is “unreasonable government regulation” to these people.
And if we want to talk about “big government,” why is it not “big government” for the legislature to ignore the referendum vote? See “Voters as Nuisances” at St. Louis Today –
Missouri’s state representatives and senators, after all, slog away for four long months a year (part-time, with a 10-day spring break), making the tough decisions about which bills written by which lobbyists they should pass.
But every now and then, some nervy Missourians get it into their heads to read the part of the state constitution about how to make laws without the Legislature. When they succeed, legislators then have to hole up with more lobbyists to figure out the best way to nullify the laws that the people passed without them.
As I understand it, state law does allow the legislature to repeal or amend voter initiated statutes. But it seems that the Missouri legislature has been doing this a lot, and not just to the puppy mill law. The state might save itself some money by abolishing the legislature altogether and just letting the lobbyists run things, which is pretty much how it works anyway. Legislators are just the middlemen.
With the coveted title of Puppy Mill Capital of America at stake, a House committee this week has been considering ways to cancel the election results. One proposal simply would repeal the law. Another would exempt existing breeders. A third course, warmly received by many committee members on Tuesday, would eliminate such pesky provisions of the law as prohibiting dangerous overcrowding in cages, protecting dogs from bad weather and providing them veterinary care when needed.
Opponents of the law insist that city folk don’t understand the livestock business and voted for the bill in ignorance. Some legislators regard the law as part of a plot masterminded by the Humane Society of the United States, a national group that provided $2 million for the Proposition B campaign. “The purpose of these groups is to keep us from eating any meat,” said Rep. Ed Schieffer, D-Troy.
It’s our understanding that Missouri breeders are raising dogs to be sold as pets, not food.
Given the depravity of some dog breeders, I wouldn’t be too sure.