By Zach Morris, Legislative Committee Chairman
The Missouri 2020 Legislative Session began on January 8th and our Legislative Committee at CFM has been working hard to bring us details on what is going on at the Capitol. The list of bills we are monitoring has now been posted on our Legislative Action Center (LAC). You can find those bills HERE. We will keep you up-to-date as these bills go through the legislative process and inform you if amendments to the bills cause us to change our position.
If you have not had a chance to explore the LAC and sign up, please do so HERE. This program will allow you to become involved in state and federal conservation and outdoor-related issues with ease. For the 2020 Legislative Session, CFM has identified several priority pieces of legislation. House Bill 1711 and Senate Bill 662 allows “shelf-stable packaged foods to be donated to and distributed by charitable organizations,” which would create an avenue for donation of products like meat sticks and jerky through the Share the Harvest Program. CFM worked with our lobbyist to draft the legislation and find a sponsor. The bills will be heard in two public hearings on January 27. The Senate Bill will be heard at 2pm in the Senate Agriculture, Food Production, & Outdoor Resources Committee, and the House version will be heard at 6pm in the House Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. To help build support for this bill, you can use the LAC to send a message asking your Representative to support the bill, or attend a hearing and express your opinion in person.
CFM staff and volunteers will be at both hearings on the 27th to make sure the Voice for Missouri Outdoors is heard loud and clear. Tyler Schwartze, CFM executive director, and Kyna Iman, our lobbyist, work tirelessly to build and maintain relationships in the Capitol. As new issues arise, Tyler, Kyna, and the Legislative Committee develop strategies on how to proceed based on past CFM resolutions and our relationships in the Capitol.
Other priorities for the 2020 session include:
HB 1547, which would allow contractors to purchase liability insurance for application of prescribed fire. Missouri is one of very few states where this is not currently possible, and CFM believes such a bill would allow better access to important habitat management techniques for many landowners.
HB 1463, which further restricts local governments from regulating the use of single-use containers. CFM members passed a resolution in 2019 to protect the rights of all Missourians to choose for themselves their level of environmental regulation.
We are monitoring, supporting, or opposing numerous other bills. Each year, hundreds of bills are filed, many relating to issues that are relevant to the CFM membership. However, most bills do not become laws, and some may never receive a public hearing. Others can be amended on the fly and raise new issues. This is why Tyler and Kyna work so actively to monitor legislation in the Capitol.
This year, there are many firearms-related bills that could restrict the rights of hunters, but we expect them to be unlikely to become law. Additionally, there are a few bills related to the process of amending the Missouri Constitution. This can be a complex issue, but we have constitutional amendments to thank for the rich history of conservation that we celebrate in Missouri. If these bills begin to receive some support, CFM will work to make sure that conservation interests remain protected in the long run.