Coalition Report

Ed Smith, Policy Director,
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Elections Have Consequences

The food you eat and the water you drink is impacted by the wheeling and dealing of lawmakers in Jefferson City. This played out in 2016 through two bills, both of which were vetoed by Governor Nixon and both of which were overridden by the General Assembly in September.

House Bill 1414 conceals information farmers submit for voluntary programs administered by the Department of Agriculture or Department of Natural Resources. This information is now exempt from Missouri’s open records law. Concealed information now includes farmer applications for taxpayer funded grants and cost-sharing conservation programs, animal disease traceability programs, and other important programs that deserve transparency.

House Bill 1713 was amended at the end of the session to allow future governors to replace public representatives on the Clean Water Commission with members of the agriculture and mining industries. Before the veto override, four of the seven members of the commission had to represent the public. HB 1713 removes this mandate and allows for up to six of the seven members to represent agriculture and mining interests. The seventh member, which was not changed, represents waste water treatment interests. The amendment was never a standalone bill. That means there was no public hearing and Missourians never had an opportunity to weigh in on the removal of public representation on the Clean Water Commission.

Please consider issues like these when you cast your vote this fall. Find out what candidates are saying. Find out how elected officials voted on the above mentioned bills if they are running for re-election. Ask candidates how they would have voted on these bills if they were not in office this year. Ask candidates running for state office where they stand on clean water, renewable energy, global warming, sustainable agriculture or whatever your environmental concerns may be. Missouri legislators have a significant impact on the laws regulating our access to healthy food, clean water, renewable energy and more. Get educated about where candidates stand on issues. Share that information with your friends and family. Most importantly, make sure you vote.