Saturday, April 27, 2013

Big ag money corrupts Missouri lawmakers

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: There’s some big money behind Missouri’s HJR 7 and 11, which has been dubbed the “CAFO/Monsanto Protection Bill.” That’s the bill that wants to “forever guarantee modern technology” in agriculture, without saying what exactly that means. The Senate made the bill better, taking out the language that would have destroyed local control. That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the huge number of phone calls and visits to legislators we generated. Now HJR 7 and 11 is going to a Senate/House Conference Committee where the House will try to put the bad language back in. Any day now. Our citizen lobbyists are tired and that’s exactly what the corporate expected and want. They hope we’ll give up. And, besides that, there are several agriculture omnibus bills (SB9 and SB 342) that would take away the right for county commissions and health boards to pass local health ordinances to protect the health of their citizens. This form of local control should be maintained. With only 3 weeks left in the session, you’d think they’d be bending their minds to better things, like passing a budget or working on the health care crisis that will undo our rural hospitals. But, no. Senate Bill 342 & Senate Bill 9 would mandate that any county health ordinances would have to be passed word-for-word by both the county commission and the county health board. It’s another level of unneeded government bureaucracy. Here’s the deal: Monsanto has just promised 600+ new jobs to the city of St. Louis. And St. Louis is the tail that wags the dog of our state. The newspapers are all excited about it, trying to out-gush each other with enthusiasm for the expansion. Monsanto expansion may, or may not, be real. We’ve seen these expansions fail a lot of times, and we’ve seen them succeed at government expense. Some kind of tax abatement promised, some kind of bonds issued. But, for Missouri lawmakers, the chance to say that they’re bringing new jobs to the state is enough to get them re-elected. That’s life in the heartland. So we need to call our representatives AGAIN to protect local control and the state constitution. We can’t give up. Meanwhile, the day turned dreary and all the chores took two or three times as long as usual. Tomorrow, sunshine is predicted, and a fun day with my pal Laura, travelling the countryside in search of the perfect foxtrotter horse for one of her customers.

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