More backdoor legislative moves

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Tomorrow is going to be a nasty day, weather wise and in the state legislature.

Two bills are doing to be discussed in public meetings: hJR 3 and HB 100.

HJR 3 wants to put a bill on the ballot to vote on a Constitutional amendment to ensure that no other citizen initiative that’s related to animal breeding be allowed in the future.

HB 100 adds a new statue that reads:

262.005. 1. Agriculture which provides food, energy, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, it shall be the right of citizens to raise livestock in a humane manner without the state imposing an undue economic burden on livestock owners.

2. As used in this section, the following terms shall mean:

(1) “Generally accepted scientific principles”, agricultural standards and practices established by the University of Missouri, and the most current industry standards and practices;

(2) “Humane manner”, care of livestock regarding the livestock’s health and environment in compliance with generally accepted scientific principles;

(3) “Undue economic burden”, expenses incurred resulting from changes in agricultural practices deemed legal under current state or local laws or ordinances.

Actually, agriculture is Missouri’s 4th largest industry, not it’s primary industry.

What’s disingenuous about this bill is that a newly enacted law, such as Proposition B’s Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, could be discarded because enforcement of the law could be considered an “undue economic burden” on the dog breeders. Point of fact, it could be used to undermine any reform or regulation of the agricultural industry in this state.

No other type of business is offered this form of legislative sanctuary.

Between these and all the bills to overturn Proposition B, little is getting done in this legislative session. It’s as if the cities and towns that primarily foot the bill for this state, don’t even exist. It is the tyranny of the many by the few.


Long descriptions and political cartoons

One of the still open issues with HTML5 is the lack of a verbose descriptor for an image, since the longdesc attribute was made obsolete.

The longdesc attribute used to take a URL to a separate page or page fragment that contained a long text description for a complex or highly nuanced image. Typically, the only ones made aware of the attribute were screen reader users, though some browsers, such as Opera, provided access to the long description via the the right mouse button menu.

However, longdesc was made obsolete because, supposedly, there was no justification for its continued existence.

There is no better justification for a verbose descriptor/longdesc, though, than political cartoons, as I demonstrate over at Puppies @ Burningbird.

The argument that the material describing the image can be repeated in the page just doesn’t fly. To repeat the image data textually, just before or after the image, not only detracts from the image, it lessens the impact the political cartoon intends.

At the same time, political cartoons are highly sophisticated bits of imagery, which can’t be described in a small blurb in an alt attribute. They also provide essential information, because political cartoons are created specifically to convey important arguments about ongoing political and other activities.

It’s just plain asinine to fight against such a valuable aid as longdesc, or any equivalent, with the vehemence that the WhatWG participants in the W3C HTML WG have displayed.

Well, thank goodness HTML5 no longer exists and we live in a time of a versionless, living standards HTML. Since HTML now exists along an unbroken continuum, from the beginning to infinity, and since longdesc was a valid attribute at an early point in this continuum, longdesc remains valid…now, and forever.


And now…the political cartoons

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

FiredUpMissouri has links to two different political cartoons related to the recent Proposition B legislative activity. I thought I would provide a long description for these cartoons for my friends using screen readers.

The first cartoon is from RJ Matson for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It features a dog, standing in a puddle and chained to a beat up dog house, with rain pouring down and lightning in the background. The dog is labeled “Puppy Mill Legislation”, and the dog house is labeled “The will of the voters”. The pole the dog is chained to has the word, “Repeal” on it. A bone lying on the ground by the dog has a label of “Prop B”. A sinister house is on a hill above the dog, labeled with “State Legislature”and in a bubble next to the house the words, “City Voters just don’t understand why we have to treat them like dogs out here.”

In the face of the dog, Matson has done an amazing job of capturing the look of hopelessness and despair of too many dogs in currently licensed commercial dog breeders. We’re heading into below zero temperatures this week, and I can’t stop thinking of the dogs that are forced to stay in outdoor kennels, 24×7, with no more than a little plastic igloo and maybe some straw or a blanket to keep them warm.

The second cartoon is from John Darkow in the Columbia Tribune and features a slick seeming politician in a shiny suit with the label “Missouri House”, tearing a ballot into pieces and telling an older, but savvy looking woman, “Sorry, lady…You didn’t know what you were doing when you voted for Prop B. We’ll do the thinking for ya! We’re sophisticates, you know!” The woman is labeled with “Voters”, as you would expect, and she has a leash in her hand, and a small dog at her side. On her other side, is a big doofus looking hayseed type of guy, with a suitcase and “Missouri House” print on its side. All the way to the right is a bold arrow with the word “Vote” above it.

Darkow did a good job mocking so many of the representative claims made this week that those of us who voted for Proposition B didn’t know what we were doing; that we in the urban settings can’t possibly know about dogs, as they live their lives at commercial breeders. After all, a dog at a breeder isn’t the same thing as a dog elsewhere. At least that’s what we’re told.

One of the commercial breeders, in fact one that keeps many of his dogs permanently in outdoor kennels (“They like it”, I remember him telling one reporter in an earlier interview), was quoted as saying, “Whoever wrote (Proposition B) has never raised an animal”.

Well, whoever is against Proposition B has never had a pet..




I’ve been busy over at Puppies @ Burningbird. The Missouri Senate Agricultural committee did vote on a bill about Proposition B to send to the general Senate, but they did so in such an underhanded and deceitful way that I find myself equally dismayed at both their actions, and the result.

Rather than say they are repealing Proposition B, they told news organizations they are only “strengthening” it. We’re removing the 50 dog limit, they said, and adding new enforcement criteria.

Bad enough, but then when you open up the PDF for the bill text rather than just read the bill summary, you see that the representatives gutted every last bit of Proposition B. Rather than be honest about what they’ve done, they’ve tried to deceive the people of Missouri, using one of the most underhanded, slimy moves I think I’ve ever seen in a legislative action—and let’s face it, we’ve all seen our share of underhanded, slimy moves in legislative sessions.

I was also disturbed by these state representatives’ assumption that we won’t actually open and read the full text. What disturbed me more is that none of the news media covering the bill announcement did actually open the bill, and read the text.

All except for Fox. I don’t care what people say about Fox at the national level, the local Fox station has been a good friend to dogs.

I can’t wait to see what the House agriculture committee tries, as they come up with their version of “gut Proposition B” next week.

Passions are high, and times are stressful when it comes to defending the dogs…and our votes. It helps, then, to get a little perspective from stories like Puppy mill ban leads to sharp rise in puppy flour prices.

Drupal 7

I also upgraded one of my sites to Drupal 7. I ran into some significant problems. I’m working on a detailed write-up on the result, to be published later in my tech space.

My move to upgrade all of my sites will be going much slower from this point on. Much, much slower.


Fun and games with HTML5 continues with an article in InfoWorld, HTML: The standard that failed? In a comment to the article, Ian Hickson wrote, “The spec is by far the most stable and mature specification for HTML so far.”

Oh, yeah, I’ll have more on that later, too.


It’s going to snow here again next week. Not as bad as back East, which is shoveling out from yet more feet of snow, but still, I”m ready to be done with it.


Senate is first out of the gate

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The senate agricultural committee is the first with a bill to the floor to modify Proposition B. Considering that community discussion was cut off yesterday and the other bills not discussed, it’s obvious that the state senators had no interest in discussing this bill, or even in providing a pretense of fairness.

By the description, the bill they’re going with is SB 113 (fulll text of bill) from Senator Mike Parson.

The bill doubles the burden on Missouri Department of Agriculture inspectors, by requiring them to conduct multiple inspections for “serious” infractions, as well as giving breeders 30 to 180 days to correct these “serious” infractions.

What’s a serious infraction?

  • Dogs not being fed
  • Dogs not having access to clean water
  • Dogs that are seriously injured or ill not getting veterinarian care
  • Dogs kept in plastic igloos in sub-zero weather, shivering, trying to keep warm with a ratty old blanket
  • Dogs kept outdoors in 100 degree weather, without shade

No worries about fixing these infractions. By the time the inspectors return, the dogs will be dead. Problem solved.

Oh but wait, we’re not finished yet…

The bill removed the 18 month restriction for breeding and allows dogs to be bred twice in every year. This means the dogs can be bred every cycle–no rest is allowed. Have to get their money’s worth, you know.

A veterinarian doesn’t have to check out each animal annually—they can just visit the site, have a cup of coffee, and do a rubber stamp.

The wording that euthanization is only handled by trained vets has also been removed. So Billy Bob can proceed to thwapt the dogs over the head with a club.

Forget the extra cage space, and the cages can still be all wire; any exercise will be in accordance to what the vet states—you know, the vet that rubber stamps everything?

Also forget the access to clean water. That’s too much trouble for breeders in our state. Well, so is access to food at least once a day.

The dogs can be kept outdoors in freezing conditions or extremely hot weather, with no access to an indoor facility. They’re only dogs; they don’t need a break from the elements.

The 50 dog limit is removed. After all, consumers should be thrilled that the puppy they buy was raised in a factory farm setting with thousands of other puppies. So what if the puppy ends up diseased. So what if the puppy has genetic defects because the former hog farmer just shoves dogs together, without regard to genetic traits. If the puppy dies, that’s good for the kids: toughens them up, gets them ready for real life.

Gets them ready for dealing with state representatives who demonstrate that yes, Missouri law can be bought.

In other words, this bill completely and thoroughly revokes every last meaningful bit of Proposition B. It is a lie and a deception, with its pretense of being a “compromise”. The out and out repeal would have, at least, been honest.

This is what our good Missouri state senators think is “acceptable” for dogs. This is what our good Missouri state senators decided to put in place over the objections of the Missouri voters.

PS The bill also defines “pet” to be a dog, only. Your heard it here, first: your cat, your gerbil, your bird, and snake, are not “pets” in Missouri.