While we were sleeping the 96th General Assembly of the Missouri Legislature has been busily engaged in divesting Missouri citizens of long held democratic rights, to wit:
• House Bill 209 limits citizen access to the court system for the protection of their property. HB209 has passed both houses but, thankfully, was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
• House Joint Resolution 3, a proposed constitutional amendment, would limit local control and stop elected officials from enacting health ordinances for the protection of their citizens. HJR3 awaits a hearing on the Senate floor.
Both HB209 and HJR3 have consequences that are vast and radical. They shift long-held rights from citizens to corporations, specifically to owners of CAFOs, Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations Both measures shift protections for rural landowners and independent family farmers to corporate agri-business.
Perhaps because we don't have CAFOs in our cities and our suburbs, this shift of power may have gone unnoticed by many voters. That is unfortunate, since what affects a portion of citizens eventually affects all citizens. As Jim Crabtree reminded us in a recent letter to this paper, the power of government is derived from the power of the people themselves. We are not merely rural Missourians or urban Missourians. We are all Missourians, and the power of the Legislature comes only from all of us. When the 96th Legislature denies one segment of our population its rights and protections under the Missouri State Constitution, we all lose them.
"No man is an island", wrote John Donne five centuries ago. " ... and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."
John Donne got it right.