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Missouri Senate passes bill on industrial farms

Missouri Senate passes bill on industrial farms

May 2nd, 2019 by Bob Watson in Missouri News

By a 23-11 vote, the Missouri Senate on Thursday passed and sent to the House Sen. Mike Bernskoetter's bill to limit local officials' ability to regulate confined animal feeding operations.

Thursday's procedure took less than five minutes. It followed a nearly dozen-hour session that ended about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, as the Senate debated, and modified, Bernskoetter's bill.

Among the provisions as it goes to the House, the bill:

Prohibits any orders, ordinances, rules or regulations set by county commissions and county health center boards from being more strict than any provisions of law, rules or regulations relating to the state Natural Resources and Health and Senior Services departments, including environmental controls, air conservation and water pollution.

Creates the Joint Committee on Agriculture to study the economic impact of Missouri's agricultural industry in the state, as well as the industry's ongoing efforts to improve environmental stewardship and improve its economic sustainability; ways to create incentives that encourage members of the industry to adopt best practices, to address Missouri's carbon footprint scientifically; and to get Missouri residents' views on agricultural issues.

The committee must submit an annual report on its activities to the General Assembly no later than Jan. 15 of each year, starting in 2021.

There were no questions before Thursday morning's vote.

But Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, briefly urged colleagues to reject Bernskoetter's bill.

"This is a horrible piece of legislation in my opinion," Nasheed said, "and I would ask the body to join me in killing it today."

Hers was one of the 11 no votes.

Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, told reporters after Thursday's vote that the 12-hour filibuster Monday night and Tuesday morning was a needed part of the legislative process.

"We are legitimately trying to get it right — so, when you think that we are on that floor doing silly things at 2 in the morning," Walsh said, "we are giving the stakeholders the ability to sit in a back room and create what we need to move forward — whether we agree with (the final results) or not."

Senate Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, thanked Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, and others "who worked really tirelessly at very, very late hours to help us get those changes done" in modifying the CAFO regulations bill.

He added: "Sometimes you just can't get it done unless you're doing it overnight. That's not a reality that I love, but it is a reality nonetheless of the legislative process."

Because of the proposal's limits on local control, Walsh noted: "Many folks, on both sides of the aisle, did not like that bill."

The Legislature must end its work by 6 p.m. May 17.

Walsh and Rowden said sending a Senate bill to the House with only two weeks to go doesn't mean the proposal is "dead."

"Ten (legislative) days is a lifetime in this building," Walsh said.

This article was updated at 10:45 a.m. May 3, 2019, with additional information.