JEFFERSON CITY, Mo- The Missouri legislative session is ending Friday, May 15. This means that it is crunch time to get bills passed, but there are concerns about how the laws are moving forward.
Lawmakers are attaching amendments to bills that are unrelated to the original bills. There are six bills with amendments involving animal welfare.
One of those lawmakers is Representative Bryan Spencer (R) from Wentzville, Mo. He has attached an amendment involving animal welfare to four of the six bills with hopes that at least one passes.
His amendment states that,
No law, ordinance, or rule may be enacted by any village, town, city or county to terminate, ban, or effectively ban, by creating an undue financial hardship, the job of working animals or animal enterprise. These provisions do not alter state or federal laws that regulate animal care, public health, and safety. The provisions of this bill do not prevent the establishment of or alter any village, town, city, or county or law, ordinance, or rule regarding animal care, public health, traffic regulations, or public safety unless it is in violation of the provisions of the bill.
“The Working Animals Protection Act. It deals with the bureaucracies that have an agenda to deliver the agenda for the animal rights groups. They’re attacking businesses through the local health departments and local governments,” says Spencer.
His amendment would protect businesses like Wild Animal Safari, rodeos, horse-drawn carriage companies, and any business that involves a working animal.
“All these animals that are meant for education, entertainment, exhibits, or that type of stuff, these are all under attack,” says Spencer.
The amendment does allow cities and counties to ban the businesses at certain times of the day. Spencer gives the example of the St. Louis Carriage Company. If the city officials want to ban carriage rides during rush hour for safety reasons, they can, but they cannot close the company entirely.
This amendment, along with the other animal welfare amendments, has raised concerns by the Missouri Humane Society and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.
“And they told lobbyists and people like myself to stay away from the Capitol, we all want to be safe, stay away, don’t worry about anything. So we did, and they come back, and instead, they just started passing one bill after another, nothing to do with the budget, nothing to do with COVID-19. They are taking advantage of the pandemic to force through this harmful legislation,” says Bob Baker, Executive Director at the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.
“We are deeply saddened by the amount of momentum behind these bills from the House that will bring harm to innocent animals,” said Humane Society of Missouri President Kathy Warnick. “In a time when we’re already dealing with a variety of hardships, our animals must remain protected. It’s imperative we put a stop to these bills that are a clear attack on their well-being.”
Spencer says one of the four bills has failed because it got bogged down with nearly 50 amendments from lawmakers, and will find out the fate of two more bills Thursday.
“We need to stop doing the bidding of the animal rights groups. I’m all for animal husbandry and taking good care of animals, I’m not for animal abuse, but at the same time I’m not for deleting or getting rid of all animal industry,” says Spencer.
Below are the bills with animal welfare amendments attached, SB 544, 594, 644, and 725 all have Spencer’s amendment attached: