2013 General Assembly Review
In 2013, more than 80 Senate Bills and 80 House Bills reached the governor’s desk, many of which were “truly agreed to and finally passed” the final week of session.
When the dust cleared, a few special interests wheedled some erosive measures into our state environmental laws while conservationists successfully fended off the most aggressive attacks.
On the Omnibus
Again this year, many environmental provisions were rolled into what is known as an “omnibus” bill. With ten minutes left in the session, lawmakers passed the Dept. of Natural Resources omnibus bill that contained language that originated in House Bill 650 and House Bill 28.The Governor will have both bills on his desk.
Governor Nixon vetoed HB 650 (see here), however, Doe Run is now pressing lawmakers to override the veto. Contact your lawmakers and ask them to reject Doe Run’s request for an override. Don’t override Missourians’ rights! See the news here.
HB 650 contains an attempt by special interests to do big favors for one of our biggest polluters, Doe Run. HB 650 would cap punitive or exemplary damages to claims from Doe Run, operator of the nation’s largest lead smelter and lead mining/ milling operations in Missouri. House bill 28 passed and omitted this toxic treat. However, its twin, HB 650, contains the Doe Run language and we want to maintain the veto on HB650.
Governor Jay Nixon vetoed HB 650 and signed HB28.
See our review of the Omnibus bills and other legislative issues here. Highlights/lowlights include:
- provisions weakening factory farm oversight,
- long-awaited action on pollution permit fees for the Dept. of Natural Resources,
- changes to Missouri’s environmental commissions,
- solid waste districts,
- and more.
Your action and support made it possible to hold back this year’s attacks. We promise to stay informed on what is going on during the next legislative session and notify you via email on ways you can take action. If you aren’t already on our email action list, sign up here. Stay tuned!
Besides the Omnibus issues, we were watching bills on urban agriculture and energy.
HB 542 passed as an amalgamation of issues. It authorizes the establishment of urban agriculture zones in certain areas, and also allows consolidation of vocational education districts, and changes factory farm standards. Notably, it changes the requirement that CAFO operators inspect their pumps and lines for flushing animal waste from every 12 hours to once a week. While this measure weakens self-inspection and was never enforced anyway, it’s a shame that Missouri’s CAFO operators can’t make this basic commitment to Missourians. We’re pretty sure that pigs produce waste daily.
Saving Clean Energy
On HB 44 we joined clean energy and environmental advocates in opposition to this bill which was Ameren’s attempt to alter our state Renewable Energy Standard to allow pre-existing hydro power to count toward the state’s standard for new renewable energy sources. The measure failed to pass muster with lawmakers who recalled that voters supported newrenewable energy development.
No to Rate Hikes
Described as “back door tax hikes,” the bills that would have given more money to electric, water and gas utilities died in the session. Each utility had its own interpretation of the acronyms: Ameren’s ISRS = Infrastructure Strengthening and Regulatory Streamlining; Gas ISRS = Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge. The ISRS bills began in HB398 and SB207, however they never got legs after concerns about pocketbook impacts surfaced. A last ditch effort to amend SB241 with ISRS language tanked, leaving the utilities to plan for 2014.
Factory Farm Do-Si-Do
House Joint Resolutions (HJR) 11 and 7 started out as an effort by industrial livestock operations to usurp local rights. Known as “The Right to Raise Livestock”, both bills would add language to the Missouri Constitution affirming the right to engage in “modern” farming practices, which the bills failed to define. Missourians have the right to engage in agriculture already so the bills drew opponents including Missouri’s independent family farmers and good food advocates. Amidst several attempts to stop this resolution, HJR 11 was Truly Agreed and Finally Passed with diluted language that will result on no meaningful change in our State Constitution and yet will cost taxpayers space on the ballot when the unneeded measure will go to a vote of the people for final approval.
See our entire briefing on the session here.