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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
July 14 (last Tuesday) was the constitutional deadline for Governor Nixon to either sign or veto legislation that was passed during this year’s session. Any bill not signed or vetoed by this date automatically became law without his signature. This year every bill that lawmakers sent to the Governor was acted upon (either vetoed or signed) with the exception of one—House Bill 137—the bill that changes the law regarding the bidding process for license bureaus.
On Tuesday Governor Nixon announced he would allow HB 137 to take effect without his signature. Perhaps he did not have a strong opinion either way or he allowed it to become law because both the Senate and the House passed it by a veto-proof majority. As it had an emergency clause attached to it, it automatically became law on the 15th of July.
“COOL has proven to not be so cool after all.” These were the words of one of the FFA students at a recent seminar I attended in Trenton, MO.
Missouri Corn Association sponsored the learning event that brought together a group of FFA students from all over the state. These young adults will be high school seniors this coming year, and they came together to learn about current issues facing agriculture. The group of students I worked with discussed issues surrounding the Country of Origin Labeling, better known as the COOL law. They realized that COOL is a national topic of concern that very well may significantly impact every state, including Missouri. Although other commodities are involved to a lesser degree, the main concerns have always been fresh beef, pork, and lamb. This summer the United States Congress, along with the Obama Administration, could decide the ultimate fate of the U.S. Country of Origin law.
Recently I was asked to share my opinion on the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
On June 25, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the U.S. Constitution requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-member majority, held the position that the right of homosexuals to marry is a fundamental right under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This Supreme Court ruling sets aside a standard that has guided federal courts for much of America’s past, the established standard that a fundamental right must “be deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.” This ruling clearly does not fall into that category. With the decision, now the standard for determining fundamental right under the constitution will be the “enhanced understanding of an issue,”which is just the viewpoint of a lifetime-appointed judge. Quoting from Chief Justice John Roberts: “When the fixed rules which govern the interpretation are abandoned, and the theoretical opinions of individuals are allowed to control [the Constitution’s meaning], we no longer have a Constitution; we are under the government of individual men, who for the time being have the power to declare what the Constitution is, according to their own views of what it ought to mean.”
Taxation without representation was the overwhelming concern of the Thirteen Colonies in June of 1776. In England, King George III and the British Parliament were forcing higher taxes on the residents of the colonies, and as frustration and discontent continued to grow, Great Britain sent troops to put down any movement toward a rebellion. The early American colonies desired to live in peace and reached out to Britain, making numerous attempts to solve taxation problems without causing a major military conflict.
The Second Continental Congress, the governing body of the Thirteen Colonies, assembled in Philadelphia on June 11, 1776, for the purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever all ties with Great Britain. They appointed a committee of five prominent colonial leaders to write it: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Jefferson, an eloquent writer, was chosen to author the document. On July 2, the Continental Congress voted to legally separate themselves from England, and on July 4, after hours of debating the formal document and having previously made some eighty-six changes, the final version was adopted and signed. With the Declaration of Independence, all ties with Great Britain were broken and a new nation, the United States of America, was established. Today, the Declaration of Independence is still one of our nation’s most cherished documents and stands as a symbol of freedom and liberty.
Last week I was privileged to be a part of a two-day conference where we discussed ways to revitalize the dairy industry in Missouri that, for a number of years now, has been declining. This past session, the General Assembly passed, and the governor signed into law, a bill that I sponsored to help this struggling business. House Bill 259, the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015, is designed to provide stability for dairy farmers and to provide incentives for students and other young people to enter the dairy industry after graduation from college or university. HB 259 has three parts: dairy producers marginal insurance program, Missouri Dairy Scholars Program, and the commercial agriculture program.
Dairy producers marginal insurance premium assistance is to help provide stability against major market downturns for those dairy producers who are participating in the federal marginal protection program under the U.S. farm bill of 2014. Under Missouri’s program, producers are eligible to purchase additional insurance protection. Basically, this program works like crop insurance, helping the insured to protect against significant price drops in the market, thus allowing the producers more consistency in pricing.
For well over a year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been proposing changes in the Clean Water Act, changes that could greatly impact not only farmers but also local and state government and property owners. Ongoing discussions, an extended public comment period, and uncertainties with the EPA’s proposal brought the administrator of the EPA to Missouri in an effort to insure farmers and industries that the new rules would not disrupt their operations. When the administrator came to Missouri this spring, she argued that the expansion of the Clean Water Act (CWA) was only further clarification of the types of water that the current Act applied to. Yet opponents had concerns that these proposed regulations would have wide-reaching effects and would dramatically increase the number of waters subject to EPA control under the Clean Water jurisdiction. Top level EPA officials labeled many of the concerns brought before them as “ludicrous”; however, with the releasing of the new rules, those concerns are now being confirmed.
Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both farmers who grew various crops, including hemp. It is said that Jefferson, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, penned that document on paper made of hemp, possibly produced at a paper mill owned by Benjamin Franklin. It is also said that in the early American colonies, farmers were required to produce hemp, as it had numerous uses and was actually traded as legal tender. In England, two of the main uses of hemp were for canvas ship sails and ropes.
In the just completed legislative session, Missouri’s General Assembly heard two bills relating to industrial hemp. They were House Bill 830 and Senate Bill 255. In recent years, legislators in several states have moved to promote the re-introduction of industrial hemp production and cultivation across our nation. Twenty-two states have enacted statutes concerning the growing and use of industrial hemp. Generally, the statutes have taken the approach of establishing commercial industrial hemp programs by utilizing research and conducting studies. Typically these studies are done at various universities or state departments of agriculture. Most of the statutes that established industrial hemp programs will require a change in the federal law or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) before any long range state programs can be implemented. States that enacted hemp laws have specified that any provision in their statutes do not become operational unless authorized by federal law. However, there is a provision in the 2014 federal farm bill that opened the door for state departments of agriculture to begin research and limited cultivation of industrial hemp, a product that offers numerous potential uses, unlike many other crops.
Select Committee on Agriculture - Chairman
Appropriations - Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources