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April 13, 2011

Subverting Democracy, Abusing the Process

There’s been some very ugly, unfair, cruel, and anti-democratic work in some state legislatures and in Congress over the past few days—some of the most deeply troubling stuff I’ve seen in two decades of advocacy for animals.

Just moments ago, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 85 to 71 to pass a bill to gut Prop B, the historic puppy mill initiative, with the bill nullifying every core provision of the initiative approved by the state’s voters only five months ago. The bill approved by the House is the same one passed by the Senate, and it will soon head to Gov. Jay Nixon.

Dogs at a Missouri puppy mill in 2010
The HSUS
Contact Gov. Nixon today.

House Republican leaders rammed the bill through, leading the charge to defeat any and all amendments, including attempts to restore the space requirements for Prop B, to require that cages be cleaned once a day, and even to give the breeding females in puppy mills an occasional rest period between breeding cycles. It was a debate characterized not only by arrogance, but by a miserly attitude toward animals and animal welfare.

Gov. Nixon is the only one who can stop this miscarriage of the lawmaking process now, and we hope he will—not only because of a concern for the well-being of dogs in the biggest puppy mill state in the nation, but also because of basic good governance and voting rights. It is wrong for lawmakers to overturn a citizen initiative before it’s even taken effect.

Please call Gov. Nixon today at (573) 751-3222 and ask him to stand up for the will of the people by vetoing SB 113.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., other canines—the wild ones—got the shaft from Congress last week, and the news is now spreading across the country. Late last Friday, House and Senate leaders, with the consent of the White House, allowed a provision tucked into the bowels of the massive federal spending bill to keep the government operating, which will remove wolves in the Northern Rockies from the list of endangered species and hand over management to states who have signaled their unyielding intention to allow widespread killing of wolves.

These states will allow sport hunters and ranchers to kill entire families of wolves and to reduce their overall numbers dramatically in the Northern Rockies, bringing them again to the edge of extinction and causing so much suffering to these creatures.

Gray wolf in the snow
iStockphoto

It is the first time the Congress has intervened to directly remove a species from the list of protected species.

On the merits, it is a terrible decision, and it will mean death and suffering for many hundreds of wolves. But as a matter of process, the whole thing is rotten to the core. There was no debate on the massive spending bill about wolves, and this is an unprecedented act by Congress to delist a federally protected species by tacking on the directive to a must-pass bill, which was made all the more urgent to pass with a government shutdown looming.

This is no way to conduct the nation’s business. With these deeply disconcerting happenings in Congress and in Missouri, we are looking more like a banana republic than the world’s greatest democracy. You should be outraged about these abuses of our government process. And we should all feel saddened that the leaders in these legislative bodies have such disdain for the honorable workings of democracy and for the creatures of the planet who depend on our mercy and decency.

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