Politics & Government

Puppy mill compromise is now Missouri law

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed into law not one but two bills addressing dog breeding and the state’s rampant problem with puppy mills.

Only one, however, will have the force of law.

The parallel bills constituted an agreement between the Democratic governor and the Republican-led General Assembly to overhaul Proposition B, the dog-breeding law approved by voters last November.

On Wednesday morning, Nixon signed S.B. 113, which substantially watered down the restrictions enacted by Prop B. In exchange, lawmakers quickly pushed through S.B. 161, which contained compromise language brokered by Nixon.

Though opposed by national animal welfare groups, the compromise was agreed to by both the state’s animal agriculture industry and state-level animal-welfare organizations.

Once S.B. 161 got through the House and Senate, Nixon wasted no time signing it into law. The bill went from the Senate floor to the governor’s desk and into law in about an hour Wednesday evening.

Nixon downplayed the initial bill signing on Wednesday, but was effusive in his praise for the final bill, which he calls the “Missouri solution.”

“At a time in which people spend a lot of their time figuring out the easiest way to disagree, everybody here gave up a little to make sure we found ways to agree,” Nixon said. “That’s really, really important.”

The law takes effect immediately, and its language will nullify Prop B and any conflicting provisions found in S.B. 113. Proponents argue it achieves a better balance between the welfare of dogs and the business interests of breeders.

“If your intent with Prop B was to shut down the industry, to get rid of it and obliterate the industry in this state, this is not what you’re looking for,” Rep. Tom Loehner, a Koeltztown Republican, said during legislative debate on Wednesday. “But if you’re out for the betterment of animals in the state, this is what you need to support.”

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